Sometimes the best way to cope with health problems is to share your feelings with people who can intimately identify with the problem. For people suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS), support groups provide just this opportunity. According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, there are 29 support groups and three self help groups across New York City, while in the entire city, there are about 12,000 people living with MS.
Besides providing emotional support, these groups can help victims develop strategies to fight the disease, share techniques for living with MS and cope with other aspects of their lives. The benefits are many, and with the informal structure of the group settings, group members can direct themselves to the best strategy to meet their collective needs.
What do people do in MS support groups?
Support groups can be facilitated by one or more leaders or by trained medical professionals. These leaders usually set an agenda based on the problems that the group members face. Support groups can be more democratic as well with different group members or the group as a whole scheduling topics for discussion.
Sometimes the group schedules speakers like researchers or medical professionals working with MS who have new information about coping with the disease. Other times, the group can simply be a forum for MS sufferers to meet and talk about their lives. Groups sometimes eat, socialize and do activities together. Most groups welcome friends and family of group members who want to learn more about the disease or help their loved ones cope.
How Support Groups Can Help MS Patients
In terms of medical benefits, the groups provide members an opportunity to find common strategies for dealing with the disease. For example, one group member might find that certain exercises help combat the fatigue that MS often brings. Other members of the group who suffer from fatigue can take that information and use it in their lives. Of course, they should run any changes by their doctor first.
On a psychological level, being able to express feelings to people who know MS well and are going through the same things may help them recognize that they are not alone in what they are going through.
This can build self confidence and identity. People living with MS often find that support groups helped them get in the right frame of mind to be able to deal with the challenges that MS brings.
MS Support Groups in New York City
The MS Foundation supports the Bronx MS Self Help Group through training and financial support. MS patients can contact the group at 718-792-3492 or email [email protected] for more information. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society also runs dozens of support and self help groups across the five boroughs. You can contact them by phone at 212-463-7787 or by email at [email protected]. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society groups are held either in person or through teleconference for patients who are homebound.
The law firm of Markoff & Mittman is committed to not only advocating for MS victims’ legal rights to Social Security disability benefits, but also helping our clients and others in the community live a full and productive life. Give us a call at 855-614-4351 to set up a consultation if you need to discuss your rights to disability benefits or need help appealing a denied application.