As people grow older, preexisting health issues can become more difficult to cope with. This can be the case for elderly people living with multiple sclerosis (MS). When you hire a caretaker for your loved one with MS, you expect them to help your loved one deal with their illness. Here, you can learn about proper MS treatment in the elderly to protect your loved one from neglect or abuse.
What is MS?
MS is a disease of the central nervous system. For those with MS, the body’s immune system turns on itself. It attacks the nerves surrounding the brain and spinal cord. This disease can be physically and emotionally draining for the one suffering. It can also be draining for caretakers. The individual suffering from MS will have slight symptoms at first. Then as the disease progresses, they will have problems with daily functions. It will become difficult to walk or go to the bathroom. There is no cure for this disease. But, medical professionals aim to slow the progression of the disease. Those suffering from this disease can generally live comfortably for years to come! MS is a difficult disease to overcome, but with the right amount of support and care, it can be manageable.
- Tingling in parts of the body.
- Out of character weakness.
- Numbness in parts of the body.
- Blurred vision.
- Stiffness within muscles.
- Having trouble thinking.
- Having problems urinating.
Symptoms of MS are unpredictable. For certain people, the symptoms may progress quickly and may be experienced often. For others, one might feel a symptom briefly, but then experience no symptoms for weeks or months at a time.
Later Stage Symptoms
Once the disease is beyond the early stages, the most common symptoms of MS include:
- Pins and needle sensations. Along with this may be itching, burning, or tearing pains.
- Problems with bathroom needs. Frequent urination, inability to sleep through the night due to having to urinate, and constipation.
- Dizziness or lightheadedness.
- Fatigue. A feeling of weakness or tiredness.
- Muscle spasms. These cannot be controlled.
- Speech problems. This may include a long pause in between words or slurred speech.
- Thinking problems. For many, this may include fuzzy memory, difficulty concentrating, or difficulty paying attention.
- Problems with vision. This may only affect one eye. The individual’s vision may be blurry, gray, or have a dark spot in the middle.
Though there is no cure for MS, doctors will prescribe helpful medications. These will help make the disease manageable and slow its progression. Caring for somebody with MS is generally a role that the family members will take on. But, when someone with MS enters a nursing home, it becomes the responsibility of the staff to manage the disease. Someone who is not being severely affected by the disease can remain independent. But, in the later stages of MS, help will be required.
When caring for someone with MS, there are many things that can be done to help them remain independent. Some common examples include:
- Physical therapy. In which balance problems can be addressed, the individual can learn ways to save energy and make his or her body more mobile.
- Therapy. Mental therapy is just as important as physical therapy when dealing with MS. A positive attitude can make a world of difference.
- Speech therapy. Where an individual may learn tactics to help communicate more effectively.
The nursing home should provide emotional support for those with MS. Also, nursing home staff members should encourage your loved one to attend physical therapy. They should also help them take their medication and attend therapy. These small steps can make their life much happier, more independent and manageable.
There are many good things that nursing home staff members can do to help your loved one. But, there are also things that they should not do. Examples include:
- Allowing your loved one to feel hopeless.
- Allowing them to give up and stop treatment altogether early on in the disease.
- Withholding medications in any form.
- Tell them that their disease cannot be managed.
- Neglecting to provide physical or emotional help.
Any of these issues could result in neglect or abuse. If you suspect that your loved one is not getting the help that they need, you should seek help as soon as possible.