Setting goals may help patients get past their barriers to treatment

We're more likely to do what's necessary to achieve a desired outcome

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by Ezekiel Lim |

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My mother-in-law, who has familial amyloid polyneuropathy (FAP), consistently adheres to her prescribed treatments, which has improved her mobility and overall mood. Because of this, she can handle more physical activity during family time.

This positive change over the past few years, including those when I took a break from writing this column, has been marked. Before, she required a great deal of persuasion to take her medicines, which she dreaded because of their side effects. She often complained that her Neurontin (gabapentin) made her feel loopy, and thus she was apprehensive about taking each dose.

Today, though, she accepts her treatments, and those of us who are her caregivers have welcomed the improvements in her movement and mood. And they’ve led to other shifts, as well.

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As her physical symptoms eased, she identified more goals she hoped to achieve. The next one was to go fishing more often. It’s one of her favorite hobbies and something FAP patients with controlled peripheral neuropathy symptoms may be able to do. Being outdoors and fishing with my father-in-law gave her more to look forward to.

That success led to ideas for activities she hopes to be able to do with her grandchildren once they get older. She’s looked toward steps she’s never taken, such as buying a pontoon boat, as new goals.

The benefits for patients who set goals

Caregivers, in considering their loved one’s happiness and well-being, should help them identify goals and work toward achieving them.

My mother-in-law’s biggest concern, for instance, was to be able to hold her grandchildren. Since she’d taken her prescribed treatments as directed, she experienced less physical pain from peripheral neuropathy. This and other improvements to her symptoms meant she was able to hold her grandchild when she first met her.

For my mother-in-law, the prospect of sharing one of her favorite pastimes with family was worth taking prescribed treatments. Caregivers should help their loved ones identify goals, so the patients can do what’s necessary to achieve them — including consistently adhering to medical advice. If the patient can visualize and plan these goals, with help or without, the caregiver’s life may become easier, too.

My mother-in-law’s willingness to take medicines as directed bore fruit by improving her mobility and, therefore, her mental well-being. Now we all look forward to the next goals on her list.

If you have FAP, do you have goals in mind? Please mention them in the comments.

Note: FAP News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of FAP News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to familial amyloid polyneuropathy.


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