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The Ezra Home Care Blog

What is Multiple Sclerosis and How Will It Affect My Parent’s Mobility?

Jan 5, 2018 |

Your parent’s diagnosis of late-onset Multiple Sclerosis can mean big changes for them and for the family. Here's what to expect if your parent has been told they have this disease.

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What is Multiple Sclerosis?

Multiple Sclerosis, or MS, is a disease that affects the central nervous system - your brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. According to the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America, it is most commonly diagnosed before the age of 50, but the numbers of older adults presenting with late onset MS (50 plus) is on the rise. When you have MS, your immune system attacks your nerve cells, which results in a disruption in key communications between your brain and your body.

It can be harder to diagnose MS in the over-50s category, firstly because this age group still only accounts for 3-4 per cent of MS sufferers, and secondly, because the first signs and symptoms can be similar to many other age-related illnesses. In fact, many patients who develop MS later in life have had their symptoms mistaken for a stroke, or other degenerative diseases such as Parkinson's or dementia. The symptoms of late-onset MS can also be mistaken for more general aging concerns, such as tiredness, memory loss and lack of balance.

The Effects of Multiple Sclerosis

Unfortunately, studies do show that people who are diagnosed with MS later in life are more likely to develop serious mobility issues, faster than those who are diagnosed at a young age. While the vision impairment and cognitive function remain fairly similar, the rate of decline in a person's mobility after 50 can be quite rapid, so your parent's MS is likely to have a significant impact on their mobility - with little time to adjust to these changes.

There are several factors that can limit movement and mobility:

  • Lack of coordination
  • Muscle weakness
  • Muscular spasms
  • Balance problems
  • Fatigue

Over time, the severity of these symptoms will mean your parent will need assistance walking, dressing, feeding themselves, and getting around safely. Your loved one might have symptoms that make it difficult to hold on to, or manipulate, objects with their hands, might experience numbness (which may make it difficult to control their muscles) and might have balance issues.

Loss of mobility occurs for nearly all (over 90 per cent) of MS patients, and can progress extremely rapidly in people over 50 years of age. It can make simple tasks and daily life very difficult, from navigating the stairs at home to preparing meals; in short, spasms and weakness caused by MS can lead to severely life-limiting mobility issues.

Helping a Parent With Multiple Sclerosis Live Safely at Home

While there are medications that can help with some symptoms, planning for your mom or dad's mobility issues is the best way to help them on their MS journey. Mobility devices can help increase independence - including using crutches for walking, as well as making adaptations to their home that will help them move around and avoid fall risks - grab rails, stair lifts, etc.

Consider very carefully who is going to be available to care for your parent in the coming months and years following their diagnosis. While your mom or dad may be able to manage right now, it is inevitable that they will need additional assistance as time goes on. If your parent is currently living alone, and work and other family commitments will impact your ability to assist, it might be helpful to consider hiring a Home Care company to help with day-to-day activities.

Help From a Home Care Company

A Home Care aide can be a very welcome solution A Home Care company can put a tailored care plan in place when the need is urgent, and can provide essential respite and assistance to any family members caring for someone with MS. A Home Care company can help your parent with bathing, toileting, dressing, meal preparation, laundry, etc.

Introducing a Home Care aide in the earlier stages of your parent's MS is a good way to make them feel comfortable with someone who, in time, they might rely on quite heavily for their care. Even if you or another family member feel you can take on the bulk of the care yourself, getting some help from another support source is essential; now, because it means you don’t have to face the role of caregiver alone.

Multiple Sclerosis can be a very debilitating illness, but with the right supports, your parent can continue to live an independent life for some time to come.

Find out how Ezra Home Care can provide the experienced and compassionate care you need to help your parent with Multiple Sclerosis live safely and comfortably at home by speaking with a dedicated member of our team.

TAGS: Multiple Sclerosis Care Mobility Issues Elder Care Home Care

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Susan Z. Robins, Vice President, Sales and Marketing

About Susan Z. Robins, Vice President, Sales and Marketing

Susan brings to Ezra Home Care more than 25 years of experience helping organizations, inside and outside healthcare, increase brand awareness, market share and revenues. She is responsible for developing Ezra Home Care’s sales and marketing strategy which includes increasing referral partner relationships, improving community relations, and developing and implementing the company’s online marketing strategy.

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