The need for excellent home care for people with multiple sclerosis is clear. Nearly 1 million people are living with MS in the United States, according to a study funded by the National MS Society, and this number is growing.
There are unique challenges to caring for people with MS and their families are looking for help in dealing with these difficulties. The unpredictable nature of this debilitating disease takes a heavy toll on sufferers and their loved ones.
So in honor of Multiple Sclerosis Awareness month, let’s take a closer look at what MS is and how quality home care can help.
What is multiple sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic disease in which the body’s immune system destroys the cover or lining of nerves. The spinal cord and brain are affected, meaning neurologic and cognitive signs and symptoms are apparent. However, the effects of MS are wide-ranging and differ from one person to the next.
What are the symptoms of multiple sclerosis?
At its early stages, MS can exhibit a range of symptoms:
- Blurred vision
Later, people may also develop:
- Slurred speech
- Cognitive decline, including memory problems
- Muscle spasms
- Abnormal sensations
- Speech and swallowing problems
Depression and suicidal thinking are also quite common in patients with MS.
Though people with this condition can die from complications, most are expected to have a normal life expectancy with almost normal functioning if given proper treatment.
However, MS is peculiar because it is characterized by remissions and exacerbation. A person who is diagnosed with MS can have little symptoms during a long period of stability that can last for years, only to relapse and end up in the hospital.
How can home care help people with MS?
One of the essential components of a multiple sclerosis treatment program is home care support. After medical care is completed in a hospital, home care support is needed so that individuals can adjust again to life around familiar faces and surroundings. While many MS patients are independent and can manage on their own, there are times when extra help is needed.
Fatigue, dizziness, and blurred vision can endanger the safety of individuals with MS. Personal care assistants can help people navigate different areas of the home. They can guide and provide proper direction in moving around the house. Also, they can make sure home modifications such as handrails and assistive devices like wheelchairs are used if needed.
PCAs can assist with personal hygiene if the patient is weak or incapacitated. Many MS patients who have just been discharged from the hospital after a relapse need assistance with medications and, occasionally, tasks like catheter management. Home care workers also help people comply with their medication schedule and exercise regimen on a daily basis.
Activities of Daily Living
Activities of daily living include bathing, dressing, eating, ambulating (walking and moving about) and other activities associated with an everyday routine. A caregiver can provide the required assistance if needed for these tasks. They make sure enough periods of rests are interspersed within the schedule so as not to tire the individual with MS who is susceptible to fatigue. PCAs can even assist with light housekeeping, if necessary.
An important component of any MS treatment program, home care workers can help prepare nutritious meals. They note if the person has swallowing difficulties and take steps to prevent choking. These professionals are knowledgeable about how to safely assist individuals with eating.
Aside from a balanced diet, exercise is vital for people with MS. Home caregivers can encourage MS patients to be physically active - within reasonable limits to prevent fatigue. Some elements of a physician-directed rehab or physical therapy program can be facilitated at home by professional caregivers.
Many persons with MS suffer from social isolation and depression because of their situation. PCAs and companions can provide emotional support and companionship.
How to get started with home care for multiple sclerosis
Trained personal care assistants can provide excellent home care to people with MS. They can follow a customized and flexible program that encourages independence and daily functioning.
If you’re curious to find out more about home care for MS, don’t hesitate to reach out to the team at Best Care. We’re dedicated to making sure family caregivers get paid for their hard work and finding competent and compassionate home care workers for those who need them.