We recognise that an important part of life is planning a career and looking towards a fulfilling future. Many of the symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS), particularly fatigue, cognitive and physical issues, can make employment a challenge. This can lead to your chosen career path feeling far more uncertain. Although there are added difficulties, many people with MS remain valued members of the workforce with the right support.
Many people feel a sense of identity through their job or hobby and stopping work or stopping something you are enthusiastic about can have a negative impact on your quality of life.
Thinking about long-term inclusion in future opportunities and considering accessibility and energy expenditure can be challenging. However, it will be helpful in working out what will work for you in the short, middle and long term. This will allow you to help assess what reasonable adjustments can be made to your working life and may help you access further help such as the Department for Work and Pensions Access to Work scheme which can give grants towards practical support or adaptations.
It is important to know what support is available to you, to enable you to stay in work for as long as you want to. MS-UK have some web pages on ‘MS and Work’, this includes information on employment law, your rights, seeking employment, speaking to your employer about your MS and ill health retirement.
Many people with MS reach a point where employment becomes challenging and this can lead to a crossroads. If you find yourself at the point where you feel you can no longer continue at work then early or medical retirement may be the next step and a way to access your pension early. MS-UK have some information on ill health retirement that will guide you through some considerations, signpost to trusted information and let you know what support there is.
Hobbies and interests often make up a big part of who we are as people. We know that sometimes MS can interfere with some of those activities. Planning ahead and finding out if there is an accessible version of your sport or hobby (even if you don’t need it right now) can be reassuring. It can lessen fears about the sustainability of your interest and reduce that uncomfortable sense of uncertainty. It can also help you reframe your interests and find something that you can be part of no matter what your ability.
MS-UK have some information on ‘finding support in your community’ that may help you find community wellbeing schemes and social prescribing services that can help.