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Brrrrr…Our 10 top tips for dealing with the cold

Posted on: November 06 2018

The MS-UK Helpline shares some top tips for dealing with the wintry weather...Winter top tips graphic image

It feels a little that people with multiple sclerosis (MS) are stuck between a rock and hard place when it comes to the weather. After the extremely hot summer we’ve just experienced, many people had issues with the heat, and now winter is just around the corner bringing problems and anxieties of its own.

MS symptoms can be exacerbated as the temperature drops. It is not known exactly why the cold has a negative effect on people with MS symptoms. Some of the symptoms that can be exacerbated by the cold weather are:

  • Increased stiffness and issues with spasticity
  • Higher fatigue levels
  • Increased and unpredictable bladder urgency
  • A worsening of perceived pain
  • Problems with sensory issues, particularly in the extremities

One additional issue may be the shorter days and not being exposed to as much direct sunlight, therefore not getting as much natural vitamin D as in summer months. The lack of sunlight, the shortening of the days and the difficulties getting out and about can also be contributing factors towards negative mental health with potentially worsening anxiety and depression.

Like many other aspects of living with MS, a little planning and forethought can go a long way when coping with activities in the winter.

Top tips...

  1. If your spasticity and stiffness increases in the cold, it is worth speaking to your MS team. There may be medications that you can take or if you are already using drugs the clinicians may suggest changes to dosage. There are also things you can do at home to help with stiffness, like stretching exercises, yoga or Pilates
  2. Wear layers. The thermal insulation of layers can make sure your core stays warm. We suggest choosing easy to remove clothes, as if you begin to overheated you can shed a layer or two.
  3. Make sure all your equipment and aids are well serviced and ready for the winter. Whether that is a car, a mobility scooter or walking aids, it is a good idea to get them checked out. This may involve lubricating moving parts, checking tyre pressures and ensuring brakes are up to the job. Some people even choose to switch their walking sticks over for Nordic walking poles or something similar with a wider ground surface area. You can also buy ‘ice tips’ to customise your existing walking aid
  4. Drink plenty of hot drinks. Tea, coffee, hot chocolate or whichever is your drink of choice can help you stay warm from the inside, warming your core quickly. It can also help keep your fingers and hands warm whilst you cradle your favourite mug
  5. Keeping your hands and feet warm is really important. Some people with MS have sensory issues or also have a condition called Raynaud's phenomenon, in which the extremities (particularly the fingers and toes) are affected by the cold. Fingers and toes can become bluish looking and be very painful. It is a good idea to plan ahead and get some good thermal socks and gloves and consider keeping your warm socks on even whilst at home. You can also purchase hand warmers of various kinds from outdoor stores
  6. Consider increasing your uptake of vitamin D and make the most of what little sunshine there is. Try to go outside as close to midday as you can and expose as much of your skin as is possible (given the cold!) to the sun. Not only will this help your vitamin D levels but being outside and enjoying the autumnal colours or crisp Jack Frost touched plants will likely be good for your mental health too. If you feel you need to increase your Vitamin D supplements during the winter it is worth reading our Choices leaflet on the subject and speaking to your MS team
  7. Plan for adverse weather. If you have a care package you can speak with your care manager to ensure you have an understanding of any kind of contingencies or emergency plans that are in place in case of adverse weather conditions. It is a good idea to contact your local Adult Social Care department to find out if there are any special plans in place for extreme weather in your area. If you have a family carer or have caring responsibilities yourself, it would be a good idea to get an updated ‘carers emergency plan’ (usually part of a carers assessment)
  8. If you rely on meal on wheels or home delivered meals it is a good idea to do some contingency planning for the possibility that a delivery will not get through. It is always a good idea to have some tins of soup or other non-perishable foods in the cupboards. If you have room in your freezer it is worth making sure there are a few easy meals stored away in there too
  9. Be mindful of colds and your health. If you feel you are becoming poorly, speak to your pharmacist or GP as early intervention is best for managing health. Remember that you are entitled to the flu vaccine from the NHS. You can get this at your GP practice or your local pharmacist
  10. The UK government have produced a leaflet called ‘Keep warm, keep well’ specifically aimed at older and disabled people which is full of useful information about the winter fuel payment, the cold weather payment, the Energy Company Obligation (ECO), the warm home discount scheme and other sources of financial help. The Energy Saving Trust has good advice on how to lower your bills and make your property more energy efficient. They can also advise on grants and schemes available around the UK. They have a helpline you can call on 0300 123 1234

If you want to chat about any aspects of living with multiple sclerosis, the MS-UK Helpline team are here to help. Just call us on 0800 783 0518, email us or use our live web chat service to get in touch.

Josephs Court receive £2,000 from the Rotary Club of Colchester Centurion!

Posted on: October 24 2018

Dean Rotary Club Colchester Cheque.JPGDean, Wellness Centre Manager at Josephs Court in Essex, tells us all about his recent visit to the Rotary Club of Centurion Colchester...

On 17 October, I was delighted to deliver a presentation to the Rotary Club of Colchester Centurion, who do a fantastic amount of voluntary work and fundraising for charities and good causes in Essex.

We were very well received! The club members were keen to know more about MS-UK and what we do both locally and across the UK.

We were privileged to be joined by Judy Sexton, one of our long standing Josephs Court clients. Judy shared a moving personal story of her time at Josephs Court, the heartfelt account of her experiences living with multiple sclerosis (MS) and attending the centre really touching a chord with those in the room.

We were also joined by the Chairman of our Board of Trustees, Martin Hopkins, who outlined the charity's vision for supporting those with MS. Members of the Rotary Club of Colchester Centurion are now planning to visit Josephs Court to see the facilities for themselves and learn more about how access to our centre improves the lives of local people affected by MS.

To top off a successful morning, the club generously donated £2,000 to MS-UK in order for Josephs Court to purchase a brand new piece of equipment! We have been looking to offer resistance-based exercises at the centre for a long time. This form of training has been shown to benefit people with MS by increasing muscle mass, improving tone and ultimately making daily functions easier. In addition, the benefits can be seen on a physiological level, improving neural transmissions from the brain to the muscles and reducing the progression of brain atrophy (shrinking). With that in mind, we cannot wait for our shiny new weighted pulley machine to arrive!

We would like to say a huge thank you to Rotary Club of Colchester Centurion for their very kind donation. I will certainly be letting them know how our clients are getting on with the new machine when it arrives. Thank you!

Dean

Wellness Centre Manager at Josephs Court

Find out what's happening at Josephs Court

New Pathways sneak peak: mindfulness, being a carer with MS, mobility and more...

Posted on: October 20 2018

Front cover image of New PathwaysHello,

I am thrilled to share a sneak peak into the latest issue of New Pathways magazine, which is out now!

Our cover star this issue is MSer and HR Specialist Rebecca Armstrong, who discusses being your own boss and taking a step into self-employment on page 16. 

On page 24-25, wellness coach and Director of Work.Live.Thrive Zoe Flint discusses how relaxation can help boost your immune and central nervous systems. This feature all about mindfulness for MS shares Zoe's insights and her top 5 things to get your started. 

Also, MSer and Feature Writer Ian Cook reveals his first-hand experience of becoming a carer. Ian says, 'It may sound strange to say this but I believe being disabled is, in many ways, the perfect qualification to care for another disabled person.' Read the full article on page 12, and don't forget to check out his 'revisited' article on page 42 all about Shopmobility. 

Fats have once again been dominating the news of late, so we asked MSer and Nutritional Science Researcher Sharon Peck to reveal the truth and explain what we really need to know on page 19. We also take a look at the natural remedies lurking in the back of your kitchen cupboard that could help relieve MS symptoms on page 18.

If you would like to see something specific in New Pathways please email me and let me know your thoughts or feedback. 

Enjoy reading!

Sarah-Jane

Editor, New Pathways

Our Annual Review is out now...

Posted on: October 18 2018

Annual review 2017 front cover image
Read our Annual Review 2017

Hello,

I am delighted to say that our Annual Review 2017 is now published. This booklet is our way to thank our supporters and celebrate our success in a public way, and I hope you enjoy reading it.

Our vision is a world where anyone affected by multiple sclerosis (MS) can access the information and support they need to make their own decisions. Since 1993 we have led the way in promoting choice, tackling taboos and remaining independently funded. We are built on a foundation of listening and acting according to the needs of people affected by MS. I am thrilled to see that this is reflected in our work from last year. 

We are driven by our values, guiding principles that inform every aspect of our work. In 2017 we were able to bring these values to life, and our services supported thousands of people. Every service is shaped by people affected by MS. By listening to people, we are able to offer services that are truly community led.

Thank you to every single person who has shared their voice with MS-UK or supported us so on our journey so far.

Our work would not be possible without the support of so many people. 

Best wishes,

Amy

CEO, MS-UK

It is World Mental Health Day

Posted on: October 10 2018

Photo of Diana from MS-UKHello,

It’s World Mental Health Day, an annual day to highlight the importance of looking after your mental wellbeing that is recognised by the World Health Organisation.

To recognise the day, the Prime Minister Theresa May has appointed a minister for suicide prevention. Jackie Doyle-Price will add this to her role as Health Minister to help tackle the stigma surrounding suicide.

Here at MS-UK, we have been told that when it comes to living with multiple sclerosis (MS) the mind is often overlooked. That’s why this time last year we launched MS-UK Counselling, a confidential telephone counselling service for people with a diagnosis of MS.

I wanted to let you know a bit more about it, as it is World Mental Health Day. The only service of its kind, MS-UK Counselling is focused on helping people with MS explore the emotional impact of living with this condition.

It is very common for people to struggle with coming to terms with a diagnosis or dealing with the uncertainty of how their condition may progress. For some, MS-specific counselling is crucial in supporting them to come to terms with their condition, understand their feelings and live positively with MS.

So if you are thinking about your mental health today with all the media attention on World Mental Health Day, do visit our web page to find out more about MS-UK Counselling. Our team of counsellors are here to help and support you,

Best wishes,

Diana

Head of Services

New Pathways issue 110 - The Editor's Letter

Posted on: August 01 2018

Hello!Issue 110 Front Cover of New Pathways

This issue of New Pathways magazine is jam packed full of a variety of news, features and real life stories. Start your read by catching up on all the latest developments in MS on pages 4-10. Then why not discover nine anti-inflammatory foods that could benefit your diet and MS on page 34.

Next we take a look at how a condition that predominantly affects women, actually impacts men on page 12. And on pages 30 and 32 MSer and feature writer Ian Cook revisits Access to Work and gives electric wheelchairs a spin.

Stem cells research and personal stories are still dominating the news, so we thought we would produce an update on this ever popular treatment option on page 24.

Also in this issue, MSer and HR Specialist Rebecca Armstrong explains how to get the best out of occupational health on page 16, we take a look at the therapeutic benefits of horse therapy on page 18, and Rosalind Barton reveals the highlights of her surprisingly accessible trip to Singapore.

Subscribe today to read all this and much more!

Sarah-Jane

Editor, New Pathways

Good news from New Pathways Magazine!

Posted on: June 05 2018

sarah-jane-300.jpgHello everyone,

It’s that time again when I reveal a sneak peek at what’s inside the new issue of New Pathways magazine!

In issue 109 you will find lots of great content, from the latest news and your real life stories, to expert comment. On page 11, cognition expert Dawn Langdon talks healthcare priorities and on page 18, Professor Gavin Giovannoni and his team explain why we should all #ThinkHand when it comes to research.

In addition, Feature Writer Ian Cook celebrates his silver MS jubilee on page 38, MSer Charlie Gee updates us on the fight to make medical marijuana legal on page 27 and Dr Elphinstone discusses how chiropractic can help treat MS symptoms on page 12. There’s even a cheeky throwback to our cryptic crossword on page 45.

Also this issue, we need your help! On page 23, MS-UK CEO Amy Woolf explains how she is setting out a plan for the charity’s future, but we need your input to help shape and inform the direction we take. Why not pour yourself a cup of tea and have a read, give it some thought and then write to us? We are here for you, so we want to know what you want and need from us.

Thanks in advance and as always, enjoy reading,

Sarah-Jane

New Pathways Editor

New Pathways - behind the scenes of your MS magazine!

Posted on: May 30 2018

Editor of New Pathways magazine, Sarah-Jane, gives an exclusive look at how she creates our much-loved multiple sclerosis magazine, to celebrate World MS Day 2018! 

 

MS Awareness Week 2018 - Counsellor Jonathan's Story

Posted on: April 26 2018

As the old saying goes: 'A problem shared is a problem halved'.

We at MS-UK are inclined to agree. This year, inspired by the recent launch of our MS-UK Counselling service and MS Awareness Week 2018, we're praising the power of talk. We believe that the simple act of opening up to someone who'll listen can have a hugely beneficial impact on a person's wellbeing and quality of life.

We sat down with MS-UK counsellor Jonathan who told us what he finds most rewarding about being able to lend an ear to those in the MS community.

MS Awareness Week is coming!

Posted on: April 09 2018

Hello,Photo of Amy Woolf, CEO at MS-UK

April is always an exciting month for us here at MS-UK as we mark MS Awareness Week, and 2018 is no different! 

This year we are celebrating our newest national service, MS-UK Counselling. We launched the pilot of this service in October 2017 and since then have delivered over 150 telephone counselling sessions to people with a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. But we want to help even more people!

At MS-UK, we believe that it’s good to talk. However, we know that there can still be a stigma around accessing counselling, and we want to break down these barriers so people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis can get the support they need. 

So, this MS Awareness Week I ask you to help us spread the message that it’s good to talk! Throughout the week of 23 – 27 April we will be posting on Facebook and Twitter all about MS-UK Counselling, and it would be great if you could help us spread the word by retweeting or sharing our posts. Thank you!

Keep an eye on our blog for updates as we near the big week...

Best wishes,

Amy

CEO

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