Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a condition that affects the central nervous system. It’s a kind of autoimmune system disorder that causes the immune system to attack the tissue, called myelin, that covers and protects the nerves. One of the hardest parts of caring for an older adult with MS is that the disease can be unpredictable.
Not everyone experiences the same symptoms and symptoms can worsen and get better with little or no warning. If your aging relative has MS, you can feel more confident in the care you provide by learning more about the disease.
Symptoms of MS
Again, the symptoms of MS can vary from one person to the next, so if you know other people with the disease, it may look different in them than it does in your aging relative. The symptoms your older family member has will depend on which nerves are affected. Some of the symptoms that can happen are:
The most common kind of MS is a relapsing-remitting type. This means that the person may have stretches of time in which new symptoms occur or existing symptoms get worse. Usually, the symptoms get better and may even disappear completely. The disease then goes into remission. Periods of remission can last months and sometimes years.
Up to 70 percent of people with relapsing-remitting MS eventually develop secondary-progressive MS. This means that there are no periods of remission. Instead, the symptoms get progressively worse. Because the disease often affects mobility and gait, some people become disabled and require assistance to do many of their regular daily activities.
Some people with MS develop complications because of the disease, which may include:
If your older family member’s MS has progressed to a point where they need assistance, home care can help. By contacting a home care agency, you can hire someone to come to your family member’s home to assist them with most of their daily needs. Some of the things a home care provider can do for your loved one are cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry. Home care providers can also help them to dress, bathe, and eat, if necessary.