Understanding Multiple Sclerosis in Seniors

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Nerves have a protective covering known as the myelin sheath. For unknown reasons, multiple sclerosis (MS) damages the sheath and creates plaque-like lesions. When this occurs, the normal transmission between nerves becomes disrupted or short-circuited, similar to what might happen when the rubber coating on wiring deteriorates. 

People with MS experience a wide range of symptoms that differ in severity depending on which nerves are affected. In elderly people, the condition often progresses more rapidly, which poses a number of dilemmas. The following symptoms are what you can expect when your aging loved one has multiple sclerosis.

Visual Disturbances

MS often affects the optic nerve, resulting in eye pain, blurred or double vision, and partial or complete blindness. It’s important that the surroundings in which your loved one lives remain unchanged to avoid possible injury. Depending on the severity of the condition, your loved one might also need assistance with anything from daily activities to transportation.

Seniors with MS can face a variety of challenges as they age, many of which can be mitigated with the help of professional in-home caregivers. If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Embrace In-Home Care, a leading provider of senior home care families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

Physical Disability

When the nerves in the arms and legs are affected, symptoms range from numbness and tingling to muscle weakness and spasticity. Walking may become difficult or impossible. Older adults might lose the fine motor skills in their hands, preventing them from performing everyday tasks such as writing, opening pill bottles, and picking up small objects. The level of assistance needed will vary according to the severity of the physical limitations.

Exacerbating Factors

MS often causes seniors to feel unusually tired relatively easily. Overexertion may cause symptoms to worsen. Occasional rest periods or naps during the day can alleviate the problem. Seniors must also be cautious when it comes to becoming overheated. Excessive stress can also lead to the exacerbation of symptoms.

Cognitive Impairment

MS typically causes damage to the white matter in the brain, which often results in cognitive impairment. Seniors with MS may find it difficult to concentrate, remember information, and think in logical ways. When the cognitive challenges associated with MS are combined with the typical brain degeneration brought on by aging, thinking difficulties become evident quickly in seniors with MS.

The cognitive effects of MS can be especially challenging for a senior who is already living with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. Even when families have the best intentions, caring for a senior loved one with dementia can be challenging. Fortunately, Embrace In-Home Care is here to help. We are a leading provider of dementia care. Green Valley families can take advantage of our flexible and customizable care plans, and our caregivers always stay up to date on the latest developments in senior care.

Emotional Wellbeing

By the time people with MS reach retirement age, they’re relatively used to living with the condition. A 2014 study in the journal Psychology, Health, & Medicine revealed people who are diagnosed with MS after the age of 50 usually don’t experience the same psychological symptoms as younger people with MS. 

Aging adults with MS are less likely to experience anxiety or depression after their diagnosis. The study’s authors suggest this may be due to the fact that many older adults are already accustomed to a decrease in their physical abilities. However, the disease process can cause cognitive impairment, dementia, and other mental health issues when lesion development advances in the brain. Under these circumstances, seniors need compassion, patience, and understanding from their loved ones. They may also require more assistance. 

Older adults who have MS or another serious condition and need help maintaining their independence while living at home can benefit from having assistance. When considering at-home care, Green Valley, AZ, families should make sure their senior loved ones have the resources they need to maintain their independence and remain healthy. Trusted in-home care professionals can assist seniors with daily tasks like cooking, bathing, and exercise, and they can also encourage them to focus on healthier lifestyle habits. For compassionate, reliable in-home care, trust the experienced professionals from Embrace In-Home Care. Reach out to one of our dedicated Care Managers today at (520) 625-2050 to learn about the high quality of our in-home care services. 


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