It goes without saying that having a friend who is there to help in difficult times is more than just important; for someone with multiple sclerosis (MS), it can be essential.
This came to mind when listening to a recent segment on the National Broadcaster. They were talking about “accountability buddies” and how important they can be. It went well beyond the version of these of which I am aware, having to do with gym workouts.
Apparently, accountability buddies are working for people in everything from keeping on track with finances, to not falling into old habits, to avoiding the wrong guy (again) in dating situations. Who knew?
Personal Coaching and Cognition
A recent study examines whether personal coaching techniques could be used to improve cognition and reduce the risk of dementia.
The SMARRT (Systematic Multi-Domain Alzheimer Risk Reduction Trial) pilot trial showed that personal coaching interventions led to modest cognitive improvements in older adults at high risk for dementia. As the study showed a 74 percent improvement in primary cognitive outcomes, it might be worth looking at the protocols of this study for people with MS who are experiencing cognitive decline.
One of the researchers’ key focuses in this study was to work on personal goals with each individual.
“Personal coaching may be more effective than a one-size-fits-all approach,” according to Kristine Yaffe, MD, of the University of California in San Francisco, and coauthors.
The study’s active participants worked with health coaches and nurses to identify specific, personal, cognition-related goals for two years. Given that this study took place partly during the COVID-19 restrictions, when subjects were not always able to make in-person visits with their coaches, the results were impressive and practical, indeed!
MS Buddy and Coach?
I’ve often touted the importance of having an MS buddy — someone who knows what we’re dealing with without us having to say much — and this might take that importance to a new place. Coupling an accountability buddy with the MS buddy concept, and mixing in some active, personalized coaching, might be a good way to focus on improving aspects of our lives with MS that have far-reaching implications.
It also brings to mind the importance of personalized treatment for people with MS and our symptoms. One of the main objectives of the National MS Society’s Pathways to Cure initiative is precision medicine, meaning finding the right medication for each person with the disease.
Looking to this study of people with dementia risk gives hope that other aspects of living with multiple sclerosis might be better faced using more precise and targeted methods and medications.
An Investment Worth Making
If we can be kept on track to go to the gym on those cold and dreary days when we just can’t be arsed, or to keep us from dating that toxic sort of guy — again — then it makes perfect sense that a bit of personal attention to some of our medical issues could benefit from this sort of one-on-one, target-specific attention.
I can only imagine what the price might be for such individualized efforts. The cost to the system, however, if such difficulties are not addressed and are allowed to deteriorate … that seems like an investment worth looking into.
Wishing you and your family the best of health.
My new book, Living Well with Multiple Sclerosis, is available for preorder on Amazon. Follow me on the Life With MS Facebook page, and read more on Life With Multiple Sclerosis.