Articles

Approaching Multiple Sclerosis with Positive Thinking

Henry Ford is quoted as saying, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” (1) He was talking about self-efficacy, a person’s belief that he or she is able to reach his or her goals. Self-efficacy is a concept that psychologists have studied for decades and has been linked to successful coping with chronic illness such as multiple sclerosis (MS). Self-efficacy comes from different sources. By paying attention to and capitalizing on those situations where we...

A Personal Manifesto for Facing Multiple Sclerosis

Back in my 20s, I knew absolutely everything about how the world should work and how people should behave. You would have loved me, I’m sure, as I tried to get you to quit your day job and leave your families to help Russian orphans, homeless people with HIV, heroin addicts, victims of the Holocaust, women who had suffered botched abortions, and anybody who just seemed kind of sad. Those of you brave enough to tell me that these weren’t your issues or that these problems didn’t directly...

Safety and Traveling with Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients often become confused and lose awareness of their environments, both at home and during travel. For this reason, it is important for caregivers to constantly be aware of environmental factors that may affect the safety of the patient. Once an AD patient has moved from the mild phase of the illness to the moderate phase, he may be at risk for wandering behaviors. All moderate AD patients should wear a medical identification bracelet to ensure their safety....

Managing Finances and Alzheimer's Disease

Over the course of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), the patient will become less able to manage the family and business finances. Unfortunately, family members may not realize this until, for example, the utility company shuts off the power, or stacks of unpaid bills are discovered along with a checkbook that is not up-to-date and contains gross calculation errors. A study of financial abilities in mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and AD led by H.R. Griffith found that, even in MCI, patients suffered...

Driving and Alzheimer's Disease

In 2003, an elderly driver in California mistook the brake for the gas pedal and plowed into a farmers’ market, killing and injuring numerous people. The incident brought national attention to the issue of elderly drivers. Even for nondemented older adults, general slowing of reaction time and relatively impaired vision and hearing can increase the risk of accidents. Dementia is also accompanied by cognitive problems and impaired judgment, further elevating the risk of a driving accident. In...

Intimacy and Spinal Cord Injury

After spinal cord injury (SCI), many people wonder if sexual activity will cause pain or other discomfort. Encourage your partner to question you and the rehabilitation team members about changes to expect. Eliminating unnecessary fears can make resumption of intimacy and sexual activity easier. How SCI affects sexual function differs for each person. You may want to spend time exploring your body. Knowing what feels good will help you tell your partner what he or she can do to make your...

What Is Chemobrain?

Cognitive impairment from chemotherapy or even radiation therapy is a new frontier. Irreverently known as chemobrain, it entails being unable to record newly learned information, which results in the sense of being forgetful. Patients also say that it is harder to keep track of and do multiple things at once. It is common during treatment, owing to a variety of factors that include the direct effect of the anti-nausea medications or pain medications on alertness and learning, hormonal changes,...

Is a Clinical Trial for Cancer Right For Me?

Do not assume that if a clinical trial is mentioned right at the initial consultation it means that the oncologist is not sure what to do. Some clinical trials require that extra steps are taken right from the start, such as extra processing of a biopsy sample or timing of tests. Participation in a trial does not mean that you are being asked to accept unproven treatment without a chance at a standard regimen. It may be a way to get access to a drug or device that is close to FDA approval and...

Getting Help with Cancer Treatment Decisions

Making decisions about your cancer treatment will be difficult and you will want help. For thinking through a personal philosophy, start informally and locally. Though difficult, begin with a frank discussion with family members or friends who are important to you and whose opinions you trust. Many families have found that a discussion over food eases the tension. Try to set some time aside when the television and computer are off and children and dependent elders are occupied. Those who care...

Living with Diabetes: What To Eat When You're Sick

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) states that the goals of treatment for diabetes are to prevent or delay long-term complications while minimizing the occurrence of low blood sugar. Nutrition, exercise, and medication (when needed) are the cornerstones of successfully treating all classifications of diabetes. However, maintaining this healthy lifestyle gets a little trickier when you're sick or feeling under the weather. This is one of the most important pieces of information for...