Caregivers in Davidson NC: Can Elderly Adults Develop Multiple Sclerosis?When Arthur, a 67-year-old man, complained to his daughter about problems with his vision, they visited the optometrist together. When the doctor diagnosed optic neuritis, she recommended that Arthur get an MRI for further testing. After several different tests, Arthur received the diagnosis of late-onset multiple sclerosis. His ability to take care of himself steadily diminished because he moved from complete mobility to a cane within a few months, and into a wheelchair about a year after his diagnosis. As the physical and cognitive challenges grew, Arthur’s daughter became his family caregiver and they hired a home care assistant to help as well.

Did you know that aging adults can develop multiple sclerosis (MS)? Most people think of multiple sclerosis (MS) as a disease that only manifests in young adulthood. However, approximately 5 percent of all new cases of MS are discovered in people that are over the age of 50. If you have an elderly relative that you take care of, you may want to learn as much as you can about this disease so you can recognize the symptoms if they appear.

Multiple sclerosis causes all kinds of neurological issues in people because it blocks the communication between nerves and the brain. When seniors have MS, they usually experience tremors, muscle weakness, fatigue, vision and hearing problems and numbness and tingling. The disease can progress slowly or rapidly, depending on the person’s overall health and how early it has been diagnosed. The best thing you can do for your elderly loved one is to get them to a doctor right away if you notice any of the signs and symptoms.

Many family caregivers and even seniors themselves overlook the early signs of MS because they are similar to other age-related illnesses and diseases. Often, MS symptoms are confused with Parkinson’s disease, ALS, dementia, stroke or simply signs of old age. Early diagnosis is the best way to ensure that the elderly person is getting the right treatment under the care of a specialist.

Scientists are not sure what causes multiple sclerosis, and there is no cure for this degenerative disease. However, treatment consists of several types of drugs that can minimize some of the symptoms and may slow down the progress of the disease. In seniors, MS tends to move more quickly than it does in younger patients. However, it is inevitable that at some point an elderly person will no longer be able to take care of themselves and live independently. It’s at this point that family caregivers need to step in and provide care.

If your elderly loved one is diagnosed with MS, you and other family members will eventually need to make arrangements for in-home care or a long-term facility. In-home care is a smart choice because your relative can stay in their own home for as long as possible. The in-home assistant can help where they are needed, such as for cooking, cleaning, bathing, dressing and grooming. As your relative’s needs change, the in-home care assistant can adjust as well.

Late-onset multiple sclerosis is usually not as common to elderly adults as many other conditions. However, if your aging loved one is showing signs of MS, don’t hesitate to get an appointment set up with a doctor as soon as possible.



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