Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease that can affect a person at any age, though it is most likely to be diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 60. Experts say that current evidence about MS indicates that people with the disease have a normal lifespan. In fact, nine percent of people with MS are over the age of 65. If your parent has received a new diagnosis of MS or if you are newly caring for your elderly parent with MS, you may be wondering just what the disease is and how it affects your parent.
What is MS?
MS is a disease that occurs when the immune system targets the myelin that protects the nerves. The myelin is damaged and the nerves are left unprotected, which can cause scar tissue to appear. The damaged nerves make it hard for the brain to send signals to the body and for the body to move and feel appropriately.
Most people with MS experience periods when symptoms are worse or recur, but then improve or disappear. This is referred to as a relapsing-remitting course. As the disease progresses, up to 70 percent of people with relapsing-remitting MS experience a steady progression of the disease, which is called secondary-progressive MS. There may or may not be periods of remission once the disease begins this course. Other people have primary-progressive MS in which symptoms come on gradually and then steadily progress without periods of remission.
What Are the Symptoms of MS?
The symptoms of MS vary greatly from one person to the next. Some people are only mildly affected, but others are more severely impacted by the disease and may even have trouble walking. The symptoms can also change over the course of the disease. Some of the symptoms of MS include:
- Double vision that lasts for a long period of time.
- A feeling of weakness or numbness in the limbs that typically occurs on one side of the body at a time.
- Pain or tingling in various parts of the body.
- Vision loss, usually in one eye at a time, that may be complete or partial. Eye movement may also be painful.
- Speech that is slurred.
What Can Be Done at Home to Make MS More Manageable?
Because some things, like heat, can make MS symptoms worse, there are things your parent can do at home to help manage symptoms. Some ways to reduce and manage symptoms are:
- Rest: Because being tired can make symptoms worse, people with MS should get plenty of rest. This may mean that it will be difficult for your parent to get some things around the house done. If this is the case, hiring a senior care provider through an agency to assist with light cleaning, meal preparation, and other tasks can be helpful.
- Stay Cool: Elevated body temperature can make symptoms worse, so people with MS should try to stay cool. Use air conditioners and fans indoors. When it is necessary to be out in the heat, wearing a cooling scarf or vest may help.
- Stay Active: Exercise can help people with mild or moderate MS. If your parent feels unsafe during exercise, a senior care provider’s presence to make sure they are safe can alleviate some of the worries. A senior care provider can also drive your parent to exercise classes or to the local pool for swimming.
- Avoid Stress: Stress may trigger symptoms of MS. Having a senior care provider who checks in with your parent during the day may help reduce stress by giving your parent a sense of connection and by helping with some of the tasks that may cause stress.
If you or an aging loved one are considering senior care in Arlington, VA, contact the caring staff at Access Home Care Inc. Proudly Serving Northern Virginia and Surroundings for over 12 years. Call Us: (703) 765-9350
“My desire to enter into nursing started when one of my older sisters died of kidney disease due to lack of care. At age 15, I decided to enter into nursing so that I could provide quality care to patients.Upon arrival in United States at 21 years of age, I enrolled in T.C Willliams School of Practical Nursing while working as a nursing assistant at a nursing home. I also worked as a part-time home health aide to take of the elderly. After completion of my practical nurse education, I worked in geriatric psychiatry unit at Dominion Hospital and Arlington Correctional facility mental health unit.
I completed Marymount University in 2001 and entered into Home Care as a field case manager.
I held that position for 2 years and as an Administrator, and for another 2 years until Access Home Care was found in 2004."
Today, Access Home Care has over 300 employees and 286 clients.