While late-onset multiple sclerosis is not very common in elderly adults, about 5 percent of all new cases do occur in adults over the age of 50.
Because March is National Multiple Sclerosis Awareness & Education Month, it’s an ideal time for seniors and their family caregivers to learn all they can about the symptoms and treatments for late-onset MS.
Here are 5 facts about late-onset multiple sclerosis that provide more understanding about this degenerative disease and how it impacts elderly adults.
1. Multiple sclerosis is a disease of the nervous system that blocks messages to the brain.
The disease affects the way that nerves report messages to the brain, causing all kinds of neurological problems. Common symptoms include fatigue, vision problems, numbness, tingling, muscle weakness, cognitive decline, tremors and poor balance. In late stages, the aging adult can no longer stand or walk alone. In the late stages, elderly adults often rely on home care assistance or they must be moved to a long-term care facility.
2. Late-onset MS is difficult to diagnose in elderly adults.
It’s true that late-onset MS can be difficult to diagnose because many of the symptoms mimic other diseases that are more common in old age. In fact, many of the symptoms are often mistaken by family caregivers and even medical experts as general signs of aging. This leads to many seniors often going undiagnosed for longer than they should.
3. Symptoms of late-onset MS progress rapidly in elderly adults.
Most MS cases appear in adults in their 20s and 30s and it can take many years for the symptoms to get to the latest stages in young adults. However, for the elderly, the disease progresses more rapidly. Family caregivers should be prepared to help out their relative or hire a home care assistant to take care of the daily tasks.
4. Treatments for late-onset MS can’t cure the disease, but they can help symptoms.
To date, there is no cure for multiple sclerosis and researchers are not quite sure what triggers the disease in the first place. However, there are certain drugs that have been developed that help ease many of the symptoms and may even delay the progression if the patient is diagnosed early. A neurological specialist can work closely with the elderly adult and family members to chart the best course of treatment.
5. Family members can greatly contribute to their elderly relative’s quality of life.
Elderly adults with MS should stay as active as possible and focus on plenty of sleep, reduced stress and a healthy diet. As their physical abilities diminish, seniors will need to rely on home care assistance from family members and hired from an agency. By staying active and involved in their family and their community, elderly adults with multiple sclerosis can enjoy a high quality of life for many years to come.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering Senior Care in Alpharetta, GA, please call the caring staff at Always Care Nursing Service today. Call for Assistance: (404) 266-8773 or (800) 989-7828