Caregiving for a Loved One With MS
If your senior loved one is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), it can be overwhelming. The plan for care may require significant additions, but with knowledge comes power. Taking some time to learn about the disease, its symptoms
What Is MS?
Multiple sclerosis is a disease of the nervous system. It’s wholly unpredictable and can range from being relatively benign to completely disabling. It stops different areas of the brain communicating with each other and the body. Most sufferers are first diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 40.
What Causes MS?
The short answer is, it's unknown. It is an autoimmune disease, which means that the body's immune system damages cells in the nervous system as a response to an infection. People may be more likely to be susceptible to MS depending on environmental factors, infections or genetic factors. There is no one proven cause.
What Are the Symptoms?
- Numbness or tingling
- Difficulty walking
- Involuntary muscle spasms
- Bladder and bowel problems
- Cognitive and emotional changes
How Is It Treated?
As a family member, you may find yourself suddenly responsible for helping your loved one with simple, everyday tasks. You may wish to consider whether a professional caregiver could also help.
What Is the Prognosis?
The average lifespan of someone with MS is
MS in Seniors
Multiple sclerosis is primarily diagnosed in early adulthood, but there
Since MS has many of the same symptoms as aging, with muscle weakness being a primary concern, seniors with MS are at increased risk of many dangers faced by unaffected seniors.
For example, people living with MS are at increased risk of falls for, so a senior with MS incurs increased risk.
Muscle weakness can be fatal, both to seniors and MS sufferers. A professional caregiver trained in fall prevention and will be able to plan towards minimizing your loved one’s risk of serious injury from falls.
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How Homecare Can Help With MS
If your loved one has MS, it’s very likely that he or she will eventually need home care. It may be that you can provide some or all of this yourself, but hiring a professional caregiver to help, if only to give you respite, should be something you consider.
The National MS Society reports that 85 percent of seniors with MS need some form of help at an average of 2.75 hours per day. Some common types of support needed may be with chores, such as meal preparation, housework, shopping, transportation or with personal care like bathing, dressing and help to move around the house. A professional caregiver can help with these things. This person can be around as much or as little as you and your loved one needs, whether that’s stopping by for a couple of hours a week to give you a break, or coming every day to provide company and assistance.
It may be that your loved one is still independent and able to complete most tasks alone, but even so, it can be worth considering professional care as an option during relapses, when the symptoms will be worse, or later when his or her condition is likely to deteriorate.
A professional caregiver will have experience of your loved one’s condition and will be aware of how they can best help. They will not, however, be able to give medical treatment or administer pharmaceuticals.
Multiple sclerosis is a condition that will last for the rest of your loved one’s life. Learn as much as possible about the disease, talk to your loved one's doctors and ask questions. And to ensure your loved one can go on living inside his or her home, without you having to quit your job or bend over backward to make both obligations fit, consider home care services.
You can learn more about vital home care services