Work is a large part of life for many people, and its benefits are more than just financial. It provides structure to the day and week, an opportunity for social interaction, and a sense of purpose and achievement. People often identify with their role at work and it influences their sense of self. Therefore, when symptoms of MS start to interfere with work performance, it can be very unsettling.
Many people with MS leave the workforce prematurely when they feel that their symptoms are impacting on their ability to carry out their role as they did previously. Studies show that people with MS who access support and advice in relation to their difficulties at work can perform as effectively in their role as somebody without MS. Furthermore, people with MS who work report higher quality of life, have more effective social supports and better perceived health than those with MS who no longer work.
Some changes in your workplace can be implemented by you, however for others you may need to recruit help, such as making changes to your roster or to the physical environment. There are programs available to assist you and your employer to achieve the best outcomes at work.
MS symptoms that can impact on work performance include fatigue, heat intolerance, cognition, reduced vision, mobility and impaired hand function. Research shows that good symptom management can enable a person to continue in the workforce.
Before making any decisions regarding work, talk with a health professional and get support that may help you make the best decision for you. Supports may be available to enable you to continue with work, or to find the work-life balance that maintains quality of life.