Goals keep us moving forward, so making the decision to define them is a giant step in the right direction. Read on for tips on how to put your goals in motion, and find the support needed to see them through.
Whether they’re short- or long-term, setting goals gives us something to strive for. Be realistic when setting them—but at the same time, don’t be scared to push yourself. Here are some things to think about when discussing your treatment and life goals with your doctor.
Weigh the risks and benefits of treatments
With so many disease-modifying medications out there, it is crucial to consider all risks and benefits of medication. Ask yourself the following questions while researching your options and setting your treatment goals:
- How effective is the treatment?
- How is this treatment thought to work in the body?
- What side effects are associated with the medication?
- What are the risks of taking this medication?
- Does this treatment require monitoring?
- What’s the dosing schedule?
Reflect on how treatment could fit into your lifestyle
There are many parts and pieces to consider when setting goals—especially when it comes to your daily life. Be sure to ask yourself the following questions while researching your options:
- Will I be able to take this medication with my work schedule?
- What precautions do I need to take while on this treatment?
- How often should I follow up with my healthcare team?
- How long will the medication take to work?
Make every goal count
Remember, your goals don’t have to be all-or-nothing. What’s most important is that they’re realistic and achievable. Here are some goals, big and small, that you can work toward. As always, work closely with your doctor to decide which goals work for you.
- If you smoke, stop.
- Find exercise that fits your lifestyle and use it to get moving on a regular basis.
- Reduce the salt, saturated fat, and highly processed foods in your diet.
- Stay on top of your preventive health appointments like your annual physical, reproductive health exams, and routine testing.
When you’re in the process of setting treatment goals, don’t forget to ask your doctor about financial assistance. There are numerous resources available for people living with relapsing multiple sclerosis (RMS). Here are a few of them:
Foundations and non-profit organizations
Foundations and other non-profit organizations can help pay for the cost of treatment. For example, the National MS Society lists RMS medications and their patient assistance programs.
There are also certain financial assistance programs that provide support in light of certain events, like if you lose your job unexpectedly. Under that circumstance, you may quality for something called “Emergency Assistance,” that temporarily covers costs of living. Check out the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation for grants that provide emergency assistance to eligible applicants.
Grants and copay assistance programs
Grants and copay assistance programs can help if you’re financially strapped or going through a temporary slump. They can help reduce stress and let you focus on you rather than worrying about money.
To help you stay focused on what matters most, the grants that you can apply for offer “homecare assistance,” which includes therapy visits and grocery shopping. There’s even a computer grant for those who can’t afford a laptop. For more information on these grants, visit the “Get Help” section on msfocus.org.
Patient assistance programs
No matter what RMS treatment you choose, financial assistance is available. Use the National MS Society link under “Foundations and non-profit organizations” above.
5 ways to always be your own advocate
When your goals are set and you’ve found ways to support them financially, keep these things in mind so you can always play an active role in making healthcare decisions.
Do your homework.
Be sure to conduct your own research, learn all you can about RMS, and keep up with the current RMS treatments. Being informed can help you choose providers wisely and discuss your symptoms and treatment options with your doctor.
Track your symptoms.
Regularly checking in with your healthcare team is essential for managing RMS and staying on top of treatment. Tracking your symptoms is one of the best ways you can help your team help you.
Keep your team informed.
Always make sure your team knows about your healthcare conditions, including any new conditions. Also, keep them up to date on your prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, and supplements.
Don’t feel embarrassed or intimidated. Talk about everything that relates to your condition. Explaining the impact RMS may be having on your life, your mind, and your emotions is just as important as describing your physical symptoms.
Remember, communication is a two-way process, so be open to the professional guidance and recommendations from your healthcare team.
From the Nurses' Station
Even if you don’t currently need assistance, remember that there may be help out there. Knowing your options, staying informed with the most up-to-date information, and continuing to advocate for your health can only help you down the road.
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