Ryan Kavanaugh has provided support to a number of organizations dedicated to ending some of the most pressing medical conditions of our time. One of the research organizations that he has donated to is the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, which funds efforts to halt progression of the disease, cure the disease altogether, and repair the damage that the disease does to the nervous system. The organization also undertakes initiatives to improve the lives of people living with the disease and their loved ones.
The Edward M. Dowd Personal Advocate Program
One of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s premier programs for supporting patients diagnosed with MS is the Edward M. Dowd Personal Advocate Program. Through the program, the organization helps people with MS achieve more independent living. MS patients often have their health and safety put in jeopardy because they do not have access to services or benefits, or they have limited knowledge and understanding of the disease. But if patients have the opportunity to live more independently, their quality of life increases drastically.
Individuals are chosen for inclusion in the program based on a number of different criteria. Patients who experience significant and sudden shifts in their physical or mental health or who have had multiple and urgent issues related to the disease are eligible. In addition, the program focuses on serving patients who have a lack of caregivers able to cope with the responsibility, as well as those patients who are isolated or exposed to other physical safety risks. Lack of access to home care or adequate housing is a major red flag for inclusion in the program, as is a patient’s inability to identify personal needs. Patients who are likely to be admitted to a long-term care facility in the near future are also eligible for the Edward M. Dowd Personal Advocate Program.
After being chosen for the program, participants are paired with case managers who offer intensive services and have experience filling in the gaps in incomplete support systems. These case managers focus on finding sustainable solutions and community connections that can ensure the patient’s continued comfort and ability to live independently. The program ensures that participants receive a supportive partner as they navigate the challenges of MS and that they have access to the information they need to make the best choices. The case managers also serve as personal advocates, helping patients gain access to better healthcare solutions so they can feel more optimistic about their future.
The Multiple Sclerosis Navigator Service
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society also assists people in confronting the issues associated with the disease through its Multiple Sclerosis Navigator program. Anyone can access the service, whether they are a patient with the disease, a family member, or someone from the general public. Individuals access the service online and can ask virtually any question about the disease and receive an answer supported by the most accurate information.
Navigators provide personalized guidance on a number of topics, such as how to cope with a new diagnosis, how to find the most appropriate treatment options, and the best strategies for managing symptoms. Connected to a national network of service providers, the navigators put individuals in touch with the best resources for their needs to ensure they have access to the best healthcare and insurance coverage possible. People can also come to the navigators with questions about challenges in the workplace or even planning for financial difficulties. When the symptoms of MS worsen, the navigators can help patients find new, appropriate resources.
Whether people need information to clear up confusion or they’re facing a real crisis, the navigators are present to help deal with the situation calmly and find the best possible solution.
Connecting to Peer Support through MSConnection.org
Sometimes, people facing MS—whether it’s their own diagnosis or that of a loved one—simply need someone with whom they can share their worries, concerns, and feelings. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society created a social networking site for this specific reason, which individuals can access at MSConnection.org. This online community allows people living with MS and their loved ones to connect online. People can also reach experts on the website, which provides a safe and secure environment for connecting and sharing.
At present, thousands of users are actively involved with the online community. People can connect to others based on their treatment regimen, specific symptoms, geography, interests, and other characteristics. Individuals can also search for discussions about the topics that most interest or concern them, and join in on the conversation or start a new thread. These threads can be excellent sources of information, advice, and support. The social network also has groups that focus on issues like advocacy, education, and social interests to foster more conversation and connection. MS Connection also maintains an excellent blog where people with multiple sclerosis can share their experiences in a more in-depth way, and experts on the disease can post on related topics.