Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Estate Planning For People WIth A Chronic Condition Or Disability

The book, Estate Planning for People With A Chronic Condition or Disability may not be as tempting as the latest thriller or spy novel, but if you are one of millions Americans facing daily life with a chronic or disabling disease, thoughts about the future and planning for it are important for emotional as well as medical and legal reasons. If you have strong feelings about your health care options and end of life care and realize a time may come when you can no longer express your feelings to your loved ones, this book can help you make those preparations with its step by step basics for planning your estate which includes health care proxies, “living wills,” HIPAA requirements, trusts, wills and power of attorney. Now is the time to legally document your wishes so your loved ones have your thoughts in a binding document to guide their decision-making during difficult times. It is a gift to them as well as a choice about your own life.

The book breaks little new ground but it does an excellent job of gathering resources into one volume and using clear, precise language to help readers through this sometimes “difficult to think about,” journey as they make end of life decisions about healthcare, finances and other resources. While the author, Martin Shenkman takes great care to advise readers to consult an attorney, forms are included that can be used if resources are limited. This book is a great starting point when faced with a chronic or disabling condition within the family and legal issues that may occur such as the need for power of attorney, or access to medical records, etc.

An excellent resource and a book that may be especially helpful to people with Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, or Alzheimer’s Disease since some specific examples are cited but a great resource for other chronic/disabling diseases conditions too. As someone with MS I was glad to have a chance to review this book and learn more about estate planning options.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

It's Not All In Your Head: Anxiety Depression, Mood Swings and Multiple Sclerosis

Ask anyone with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) what frustrates her and the answer may  be the unpredictability of the disease, the waxing and waning of symptoms, the stress this brings to her life and the loss of control over planning for the future.  Dr. Patricia Farrell really “gets” MS and describes MS patients as being faced with the “possible dilemma of being lost in your own life…the not-knowing aspect that increases any physical and mental stress you may feel.” 

Farrell’s book is a how-to guide that begins with an introduction to MS and the disease process. Most MS patients have read about the physical impact of the disease, but, may not be as familiar with other aspects of MS such as depression, cognition and anxiety and why these symptoms happen to so many MS patients (it is not all in your head).

You’ll learn that about 25 recent studies show an association between stress and 
MS – a fascinating chapter called “The Mind Body Connection.” It is worth buying the book just to read this chapter – but keep reading because Farrell doesn’t just give facts, she also provides a great “how to help yourself,” manage cognitive challenges including memory issues, depression, and live a better life with MS. She shares patient stories as well as strategies for daily living, and each chapter has a list for more reading. She also has a resource list in the appendix.

For anyone with MS it’s a great place to start understanding the emotional side of the disease, but more importantly it provides strategies that can normalize life for the patient and family. Well written by Dr. Farrell it is one I will recommend to others with MS.