Running the Household while Living with MS

Facing fatigue daily or almost daily is a lot for anyone to get through, and it’s frequently cited as the most frustrating symptom for people living with MS. It’s especially challenging when anyone with MS also has to keep a house clean, get food on the table, run errands or do the same work they did before receiving the diagnosis.

And yet, you all keep going. We asked the Facebook community at which household chores are the hardest to complete with MS—and that question definitely struck a chord. Nearly 500 of you weighed in with what you find hardest, from vacuuming to making dinner.

What’s more, we were so inspired that so many in the community aren’t giving up—they’re getting creative. A lot of you shared your solutions to getting through a day of chores with MS, and for that, we thank you.

Here’s what you had to say.

“Everything—when you have balance issues.”

Cleaning the house is anything but a walk in the park. It’s a complete body workout, with stretching and reaching and bending over. No wonder it leaves many with MS feeling drained. In particular, several of you mentioned that any chores that require balance are the most challenging to complete, and for good reason.

“Everything—when you have balance issues.”

“Anything that requires me to bend down, and then get up and regain balance.”

“I bought a Spotbot, which is nice because I only have to bend down to start it.”

So, many of you shared that cleaning floors is especially taxing given the bending and balancing that the chore requires. Several people shared that buying robot vacuums and other modern tools help get tasks done more efficiently.

“I recently acquired a Shark Ion, lightweight cordless vacuum. It makes life a whole lot easier.”

“I bought a Spotbot, which is nice because I only have to bend down to start it and move it instead of staying bent over.”

“Something I did that has helped me a lot is purchase a robot mop and vacuum!”

“Now I just swish around a wet rag on the floor with my foot.”

For the chores you’re still taking on, many of you shared that how you do them looks different—and that’s OK. You may find that the high standards you once held your household to aren’t worth it anymore. For many of us, it’s sometimes a revelation when we recognize that our friends and loved ones come to our homes not because our house is tidy, but to see us. Good friends don’t care if you’ve let the dusting go a bit.

“I used to do my hardwood floors on my hands and knees; now I just swish around a wet rag on the floor with my foot.”

“I get vertigo when I bend over, so I sprinkle comet in the tub and use a long handled sponge mop to scrub, and then I rinse it out.”

“I use a power wheelchair, and it’s made vacuuming so much that I’ve given up on it. I get so tangled up in the cord. It’s crazy!!”

“My dexterity leaves me when I’m cutting up veggies and food prep, so I keep it simple.”

Food is one thing that none of us can give up on. But, we can choose what it looks like to feed ourselves and our family. We may once have prepared big meals, and now choose meals that are ready in minutes. Really, what matters isn’t so much how much time and energy you put into making the meal, but how much nutrition you get out of it. After all, if you have to rest for hours after making a big meal, then that might not be as worth it as making a smoothie for lunch. But, we all choose which compromises work best for ourselves.

“My dexterity leaves me when I’m cutting up veggies and food prep, so I keep it simple. I drink protein and don’t do complex cooking anymore. I just steam veggies, and cook a protein. Buy spinach and romaine already washed and ready to eat. Simple salads.”

“Fixing dinner. Because I have usually pushed myself all day and run out of clean spoons by 3 pm. Sometimes the thought of cooking and then cleaning up brings me to tears. I can’t NOT clean up after dinner. It’s not me. So, I usually do it all anyway, then lay down and watch TV the rest of the evening.”

“Online ordering for groceries helps me so much.”

For many of you, the weekly shop used to be a pleasurable part of the week but has grown increasingly difficult on your body. Several of you shared that you made the switch to online grocery shopping and delivery. Some of you rely on online grocery shopping for heavy things and packaged goods, while still selecting meat, fruit and veggies in person to ensure quality. Still, whether you order a lot or a bit online, it can still spare your body a lot of trouble.

“Online ordering for groceries helps me so much. Going in a big grocery store wears me out. From my local Wal-Mart, I can order anything in the store and they bring out to me with my grocery order for no added fee.”

“I use Shipt and Instacart. I’ve also used Walmart delivery in the past. These are all lifesavers.”

“I’m glad I’m not the only one that struggles with this stuff.”

Several of you found comfort in knowing that you’re not the only one with MS who is having trouble keeping the house together, fixing meals and doing everything you used to do. You’re not weak or a wimp. You’re doing the best you can with a disease that is not kind to bodies. In all of this, you are not alone. This entire community understands what you are going through each day that you face MS.

“This was a wonderful question. It feels good that some of us understand the struggle.”

“I’m glad I’m not the only one that struggles with this stuff.”

“A weight has been lifted in reading how others go through what I do. I don’t feel like I’m just being a wimp!”

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  • Debbie Marz says:

    I have RRMS .I hate cleaning my house! Thank God for Doordash!
    Thanx for article! I am not alone…

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