It’s 5 o’clock somewhere, so it’s time to kick back and relax, right?
While I hate to admit it, the fact I qualify for senior citizen discount at the movies is proof that I’m getting old. Chances are I’m older than most of you reading this article. During the last 10 years in which I’ve lived with relapsing multiple sclerosis (MS), I’ve gained certain insights that may help anyone.
Hopefully these tips give you some additional ideas to help you lead a healthier lifestyle at any age.
MS may keep you from being as active as you’d like to be. Mobility issues and depression are prevalent with MS, and they can isolate you from others. After working with my doctor on the level of activity that’s right for me, I learned that pushing myself to be as active as possible has many benefits—both physically and mentally. I try to stay true to a schedule of daily exercise (whether it’s going for a walk or even just taking the stairs) and maintain a network of social connections with family, friends, and neighbors. These two things have made me feel like I’m living a healthier lifestyle even as I get older.
It’s easy to start thinking negatively when you are dealing with a chronic disease. I have realized that maintaining a positive attitude is so important. It took a while, but I’ve accepted the fact that I have MS. That means I have certain limitations. Dwelling on what I can’t do is counterproductive. Instead, I stay focused on what I can do and get enjoyment out of even the “little things.” I’ve always considered myself a positive person, and that’s something MS can’t take away from me—or from you. Be positive and get determined to maintain your self-identity.
No surprise here. Leading a healthy lifestyle is especially important if you have a chronic disease like MS. For me, this meant making some changes to my lifestyle. After talking to my doctor about what made sense for me, I first cleaned up my diet by adding more fruits and veggies and eating less red meat. I’ve become more aware of my salt and sugar intake, and I pay more attention to product labels. I also no longer burn the midnight oil. Instead, I go to bed earlier than I used to and try to get enough rest. And with the help of my healthcare team, I’ve added certain supplements to my daily regimen that are anti-inflammatory and neuro-protective. I always found this saying interesting: “If you want to lead a healthy life, get yourself a nice little disease.” Ironic as it may seem, there is some truth to that!
This was something that took some time for me to be happy with. During my first year after being diagnosed, I went to two different neurologists. The first doctor turned out not to specialize in MS. I’ve always felt that it is important to be treated by an MS specialist. The second didn’t seem to want to spend enough time with me. I eventually found a doctor who only treats MS, and who had a reputation as a leader in the field. In addition, he was affiliated with a local MS center that was a great resource for wellness programs and services, and a team of health professionals that I could rely on. Don’t settle if you’re not completely satisfied with the healthcare services available to you. Having access to the highest quality care can make a difference in the way you manage your MS.