About Claudia Chavez

My name is Claudia Chavez, and I am a Manager of Mission Delivery at MSAA. I am bilingual in English and Spanish and hold an Associate of Arts in psychology, a Bachelor of Social Work, and a Master of Social Work. I enjoy spending time with friends and family, and I spend a lot of my free time rescuing and helping animals in my community. I take pride in making a positive impact with the work that I do, and helping others brings me joy.

Priorizando nuestro bienestar durante la época festiva

La época festiva puede ser abrumante. Aunque disfruto de comprar, cocinar, decorar y pasar tiempo con mis seres queridos, esto puede dejarme agotada y exhausta. La temporada festiva representa alegría y celebración, pero la vida tiene una forma de desafiar nuestros planes e intenciones. Cuidarnos es fundamental para disfrutar al máximo de esta temporada.

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Embracing Wellness While Navigating the Holiday Season

The holiday season can be overwhelming. While I enjoy shopping, cooking, decorating, and spending time with loved ones, it can leave me drained and exhausted. The holiday season represents joy and celebration, but life has a way of challenging our plans and intentions. Taking care of ourselves is integral to enjoying this season to the fullest.

Holidays have a significant impact on our lives. Every year, I remind myself to be mindful of my spending. I get so caught up in gift exchanges and not-so-necessary decorations that I lose track of what is truly important. A present is lovely, but the gift of our presence and undivided attention is unmatched. Spending time with loved ones and being present in the moment is priceless. I must remind myself to put the phone down, set aside my worries for another day, and focus on being fully present. If a gift exchange is essential and you have a large family, we can always give a personalized homemade card or a small trinket that symbolizes your appreciation. Seasonal sales are great but be mindful of impulsive spending. Knowing our financial limits and respecting those boundaries is part of our well-being. It allows us to prioritize our expenses and financial goals.

Social expectations can be a source of stress during the holidays. We may feel pressured to participate in events or activities that do not align with our current emotional or physical wellness. I allow myself to leave social events early, take breaks, or excuse myself from them as needed. Your loved ones may be more understanding of your limits than you think. Share your feelings with them, and don’t hesitate to ask questions. Sometimes, it’s essential to know the food or seating options at the event, or it may be essential to know who may attend the gathering if it contributes to an unhealthy dynamic. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries and follow through with them.

For those who experience loneliness or grief during the holiday season, know that you are not alone. The absence of people or any loss in your life can be difficult this time of year. Whatever the cause of our grief is, know that it is okay to acknowledge and express it. One way to deal with these feelings is to rethink our expectations and be flexible with ourselves. These feelings are entirely valid. Seek support from friends, family, and professionals, and practice acceptance. My MSAA Community Online Forum offers a free peer-to-peer online forum for individuals with MS, their families, and their care partners to share information and their experiences with multiple sclerosis. Building connections and finding support this holiday season can be done in various ways.

Self-care has become an essential component of well-being during the holiday season. I have learned that prioritizing my needs and preferences does not have to be an added task on my to-do list. I can make small changes that have a significant impact on my health.

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Resilience Is Your Superpower

MS is debilitating and relentless, wreaking havoc on our bodies and minds. It is frequently a diagnosis that causes fear, confusion, and discomfort in so many ways. The first thing that I think of when I speak with a person with MS is the word resilience.

If there is one thing I have learned about people with MS, it is that they are resilient. They have learned to withstand difficulties and adapt to situations that many are unaware of. The courage those with MS show every day leaves me baffled. It takes strength to deal with the physical and “invisible” symptoms of MS, and educating ourselves and those around us about this disease is just as powerful. The MS journey is one of ups and downs, trial and error, and acceptance.

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Today Is the Best Day to Learn Something New

Here we go! Another school year has arrived with endless possibilities and great potential. Whether you have little ones that are starting a new school year, or you are attending school yourself, adjusting to the new schedule can be challenging. Starting a new school year can be stressful, but it can be exciting as well.

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Prepare, don’t despair

Emergencies are sudden and uncontrollable. They can’t always be prevented, but having a plan to tackle them head-on can make a difference in the outcome. It is easy to forget the most well-known information in times of crisis. There are many ways to prepare for an unexpected situation, and creating a plan that is tailored to your specific needs is crucial. Let’s talk about different ways to prepare.

Keeping our medical records easily accessible in case of an emergency is vital but carrying them all the time can be impractical. The Rocky Mountain Multiple Sclerosis Center offers customized Multiple Sclerosis Identification Cards to individuals living with MS nationally. This card lists vital information, including the individual’s name, address, and emergency contact on one side and common MS symptoms on the back. This card may be useful in an emergency, as it can easily be stored in your wallet, your car, or your luggage and accessed in case of an emergency.

Keeping your emergency contact information at hand can also be done using your phone. You can set an emergency contact and list medical conditions through the Medical ID feature on your iPhone. This can help first responders access lifesaving medical information from the lock screen without needing your passcode. There are also options for other smartphones, such as Android.

For those of us with children, pets, and other loved ones we care for, an emergency can disrupt our schedules and impact those we love. Having a plan can ensure that they are taken care of while we are taking care of ourselves. Keep a record of your children’s school, teachers, extracurricular activities, and schedules. Provide a key to a trusted friend or relative to access your home if needed. Have the necessary supplies for your pets for a couple of weeks and make them easily accessible for friends and family who may be helping care for them.

Keep a packed bag with your essentials if you leave your home rapidly and unexpectedly. Keeping a sealed bag with a change of clothes, medication, and personal supplies may come in handy if you don’t have time to pack or your loved one needs to meet you at the hospital. I like including a comfort item that can bring me peace and comfort at a time of crisis, like a picture of a loved one or a small stuffed animal that has sentimental meaning.

For those who may need additional support at home, a medical alert system may provide the necessary protection to ensure someone responds in case of an emergency. These systems allow an individual to activate a device or press a button in the event of an emergency, and they are especially beneficial for those who live alone or have mobility difficulties.

Emergency planning is all about preparing for and responding to emergencies. Communicating with our loved ones about our needs and discussing their availability and willingness to help is vital to creating a reliable plan. Unexpected situations can be scary, but emergency preparedness can provide peace of mind knowing there is a plan for you and your loved ones.

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Plan, Prepare, and Enjoy the Trip!

Are you planning a trip soon? Sure, getting to the destination is beautiful and all but what about all the planning that goes into the trip? Between the research, packing, reservations, and cost, traveling can be exhausting.  Nothing beats an amazing vacation, but how do we make sure we are prepared for it all?

If you are anything like me, you will most definitely forget to pack something (and end up looking like a tornado tossing around the luggage to find it). Traveling with MS can be easy when you are prepared and have a contingency plan.

Here are some tips that can make your trip run as smoothly as possible.

  • Depending on your destination and needs, it may be a great idea to request a doctor’s note listing your medications and any specific medical needs you need accommodations for.
  • Bring the necessary storage devices, such as a cooler for injections, a needle clipping device, and storage must-haves.
  • Consider your medication dates if you take a DMT. For example, work around your infusion date.
  • Call the hotel in advance to verify the hotel has a refrigerator in the hotel room, or request a refrigerator for your room if you have medication that requires refrigeration.
  • Bring a list of your providers’ contact information just in case.
  • Bring extra medication in case you accidentally misplace it or damage it.
  • If you are traveling by air, you may contact the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for additional information and to familiarize yourself with the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) that protects against discrimination.
  • Find MS support when traveling abroad by visiting the Multiple Sclerosis International Federation directory.

Knowing what to expect when traveling can ease your worries. Multiple Sclerosis doesn’t have to weigh you down. Don’t let anything stop you from taking that dream vacation you have always wanted. Plan, prepare, and enjoy the trip!

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Enjoy yourself, you deserve it.

It’s no secret that summer can be debilitating for those with MS. The heat and humidity can be a nightmare for so many of us. While everyone experiences summer differently, I think we can all agree that it’s important to plan head to ensure we are as comfortable as possible during these summer months.

Being prepared is more than bringing water, an umbrella, or a cooling vest. Being prepared also means understanding your limits and respecting them. It can be difficult to skip plans or cut them short when we need a break. It’s okay to sit down under the shade when our body is getting overheated. It’s okay to sit back and relax while friends and family continue with certain activities on their own. It’s okay to turn down plans when we know certain events will not sit well with our bodies. It’s okay to put your needs first.

Modifying certain activities can allow us to enjoy the outdoors this summer. Feel comfortable voicing your opinion when choosing a vacation destination, planning the activities for the day, or simply choosing the hotel bed closest to the air conditioner. Your voice matters.

Here are some things to keep in mind this summer:
• Do your research on the weather and humidity of the area.
• Notify your family and friends that you may need more breaks or downtime to relax.
• Declining to go to an event or activity you do not want to participate in or may be physically detrimental is self-care.
• Have fun and relax!

Summer is typically a time for fun and excitement and it’s easy to get wrapped up in the fun and forget that our bodies might need a bit more rest. Sharing your needs and feelings with your friends and family may help come up with a plan to ensure that everyone is safe and comfortable.

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Accept what is, let go of what was, and have faith in what will be

Acceptance is easier said than done sometimes. It can be difficult to fully acknowledge the difficulties that we are facing, especially when they are out of our control. Whether it be a new diagnosis, a relapse, or the progression of multiple sclerosis, change can be hard. Denial, fear, anger, and sadness are normal emotions that can arise during this time. For those struggling to manage these intense emotions, know that you are not alone.

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Wellness at Every Stage

Wellness is important at every age, especially for those with MS. While our needs naturally change over time, self-care becomes increasingly important as we enter the later stages of life. Aging is uniquely personal. While some may still have the mental and physical capabilities that have kept them independent, others may need additional support to complete daily tasks. Understanding our needs and having access to supportive services and devices can make a difference in our quality of life.

Mobility and independence go hand in hand. Having the necessary equipment may allow an individual to remain living independently for as long as possible. As we age, our balance and physical strength decline. While exercise and physical activity are typically recommended to stay healthy, falls may be a frequent concern. Mobility devices and assistive technology may assist with daily tasks, but sometimes specialized equipment may be needed to fully meet an individual’s needs. While MSAA’s Equipment Distribution Program offers equipment such as walkers, canes, and grab bars, some people may require additional specialized devices to fully meet their needs, such as Hoyer lifts and hospital beds. Occupational therapy and physical therapy may help evaluate our needs and help us adapt.

Daily living activities may be especially challenging for those who may be experiencing cognitive decline or don’t have care partners for assistance. Homecare may offer in-home services to help with these tasks, such as light housekeeping, laundry, and meal preparation. A limited support system may also impact socializing. The benefits of socializing are undeniable. It keeps our minds active and is important for cognitive functioning and our emotional well-being. Adult daycare services may be a great resource for those who would like additional social activities outside their home. These services are provided to older adults in a community setting and typically offer a range of events and activities like trivia games, painting, or group conversations.

Planning becomes increasingly important when taking into consideration the specific needs of someone with MS. It can be overwhelming to deal with medical expenses, housing modifications, transportation, and other unexpected costs. Navigating health insurance and Social Security benefits can be complicated, and becoming familiar with government benefits and local and national organizations may ease some of the stress.

For those who would like to explore their local resources, consider the following:

  • Center for Independent Living: For those looking for additional support and resources, your local Center for Independent Living may be able to offer a variety of services to promote the independence of people with disabilities and those who are older. Services may include information and referral, independent living skills, individual and systemic advocacy, and equipment loan closets. The ILRU Directory of Centers for Independent Living (CILs) and Associations can be found by visiting https://www.ilru.org/projects/cil-net/cil-center-and-association-directory.
  • Eldercare Locator: The Eldercare Locator is a public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging that connects you to services for older adults and their families. Their specialists can assist with information about support services, housing, elder rights, insurance and benefits, health, and transportation. The Eldercare Locator can be accessed by visiting https://eldercare.acl.gov/Public/index.aspx.
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Slow But Steady Wins the Race

February has arrived, and we are one month into our new year’s resolution journey. Let’s face it, it can be difficult to keep the motivation we once had. While I had the best intentions to get up every morning and go for a walk, some days I didn’t feel like changing out of my pajamas, and that is okay.

The momentum that developed in January suddenly started slowing down as the month passed. While I started my new year’s resolution in full force, I have noticed my motivation fluctuating as of late. Surely, I’m not alone. Many of us have experienced our motivation decline as the year goes by. It’s not uncommon to lose track of our original goal and slowly fall back into old habits. What can we do when this happens? And how can we retain that excitement and focus we once had?

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