There’s no doubt that multiple sclerosis is a debilitating disease that eventually robs people of the ability to walk or care for themselves independently. Most people know that multiple sclerosis, or MS, strikes primarily at adults in their 20s and 30s. However, a small percentage of new cases occur in seniors over the age of 50. This late onset multiple sclerosis can be hard to diagnose, and it manifests much more quickly than in younger adults.
Family caregivers with elderly relatives should take the time to learn more about late-onset multiple sclerosis and what it might take to care for an aging adult after diagnosis.
Q: What exactly is MS?
A: Multiple sclerosis damages the nerve cells in the body, blocking messages that are sent to the brain. This interruption of messages causes numerous symptoms in both young and older adults. Medical experts are not sure what causes MS and to date, there is no cure.
Q: Is MS common in elderly Americans?
A: MS is not a common disease in the elderly population, especially when compared to other age-related diseases. It typically manifests in adults between the ages of 20 and 40, but a small percentage of cases happen to people older than 50.
Q: What are the symptoms of MS in elderly adults?
A: The symptoms of MS often start out mild and worsen over the years. Common symptoms include fatigue, tingling and numbness, muscle weakness, vision problems, dizziness and tremors. Other symptoms include memory and cognitive issues, muscle spasms and chronic pain. Eventually, the elderly person will be unable to walk or stand.
Q: How is MS treated?
A: There is no cure for late-onset multiple sclerosis, but several different drugs have been developed to help treat the symptoms of the disease. As with many diseases, the earlier the patient is diagnosed, the more effective the treatments are. These drugs don’t cure the disease, but they can help alleviate some of the symptoms and often slow down the progression.
Q: What is the outlook for an elderly person diagnosed with MS?
A: When a younger adult is diagnosed, it can take years or even a decade for them to experience a significant decline. However, medical experts are discovering that for late-onset multiple sclerosis, the decline happens more quickly. Seniors can expect their ability to care for themselves independently to diminish and they will need help with the tasks of daily living. Many have family caregivers or hire senior care assistants to help with any tasks needed, from cleaning and cooking to grooming and hygiene.
Q: How can family caregivers help an elderly relative with MS?
A: Medical experts agree that staying as active as possible is one of the best ways to manage multiple sclerosis. Other helpful lifestyle tips include eating a healthy diet, reducing stress, getting adequate sleep and working closely with a neurologist that understands late-onset MS. They should seriously consider hiring a senior care assistant to enable their aging relative to live as independently as possible.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering Senior Care in Hinsdale, IL, please contact the caring staff at Suburban Home Care today. Call (630) 964-9000 or (708) 442-2200.