(NewsUSA) — More than 65 million people in the United States act as a caregiver for a loved one. One of those caregivers is Jessica Walker — wife of multiplatinum country music recording artist Clay Walker.
Clay was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis or RRMS — a lifelong and unpredictable disease — at a pivotal time in his life. He was 26 and had just finished his fourth album, and his oldest daughter had just been born.
Approximately 400,000 Americans have been diagnosed with MS, and the majority of people with the most common form of the disease, RRMS, are diagnosed in their 20s and 30s. Common symptoms reported in RRMS include episodic bouts of fatigue, numbness, vision problems and spasticity or stiffness.
Jessica and Clay have partnered with Teva Neuroscience and Clay’s non-profit organization Band Against MS, on the “Share How You Care” campaign to shine a spotlight on the important role of family caregivers.
Clay’s hectic schedule means he has to take a proactive role in managing his disease. A big part of that is made possible thanks to the help of his wife, Jessica. As a caregiver, she makes sure the family sticks to a routine and eats a healthy diet and that Clay takes his RRMS treatment as prescribed. In recognition of National Family Caregivers Month, Jessica and Clay hope to empower caregivers by sharing what caregiving means to them and encouraging others to share their caregiver stories.
Jessica knows that the word “caregiver” doesn’t have one definition, so there is not one-size-fits-all advice. However, there are some helpful tips that she sticks to in her role as a caregiver:
• Stay in the know, and learn as much as you can about your partner’s illness.
• Communicate and keep an open dialogue.
• Have a daily plan to reduce stress.
• Treat your partner like your partner; you don’t need to baby them — you need to try to be there for them. And most importantly,
• Have your own support system in place because it is important to take time for yourself.
For more on Jessica’s caregiver tips and to participate in the “Share How You Care” campaign, submit your own caregiver story or that of a loved one by going to www.BandAgainstMS.org.