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Multiple sclerosis in seniors: a day-to-day challenge

La sclérose en plaques chez les aînés
Catégorie : Illnesses and Conditions  
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Known as an unpredictable disease, often punctuated by ups and downs, multiple sclerosis in seniors represents a real daily challenge for many. To live better with this health condition, it is useful to understand what multiple sclerosis is and the impact it can have on elderly suffering from it.

At Visavie, our team is dedicated to supporting seniors and their families, with respect and compassion, in achieving a better quality of life every day. This commitment applies to all seniors, regardless of their reality.

What is Multiple Sclerosis (MS)?

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is considered as an autoimmune disease. This means that, for reasons that are often unknown, the immune system attacks its own body. In multiple sclerosis, this process affects the myelin, which is the protective membrane enveloping the nerves. Because of this demyelination, this results in progressive damage to the entire central nervous system (CNS), affecting the brain, optic nerves, and spinal cord.

Causes of multiple sclerosis

Even today, the exact causes of the disease remain unknown. However, we do understand that the inflammation affecting the nerve tissue is largely responsible for the symptoms encountered in multiple sclerosis. Although the specific causes are still uncertain, some situations are identified as risk factors: genetic, local environment (this disease is more common in Nordic countries than in tropical countries, for example) and lifestyle (smoking, sedentary lifestyle, obesity, etc.).

Symptoms associated with multiple sclerosis

The symptoms of multiple sclerosis affect both the motor and sensory aspects of the human body, reflecting the impact of this condition on both parts of the central nervous system.

  • Vision problems;
  • Urinary and/or intestinal disorders;
  • Mobility problems such as a difficulty in walking;
  • Coordination / dexterity impairment;
  • Dizziness / vertigo;
  • Numbness and/or tingling sensations;
  • Pain;
  • Emotional changes;
  • Impaired concentration;
  • Constant feeling of fatigue.

If you note such symptoms, either for yourself or an elderly relative, it is recommended to consult a physician for a full evaluation and correct diagnosis of the condition.

Actual treatment of multiple sclerosis

Although there is no complete cure to multiple sclerosis, various treatments are available to help control the progression of the disease.

  1. Medication for symptoms management : analgesics, NSAIDs, muscle relaxers, etc. ;
  2. Corticosteroids to limit inflammatory attacks;
  3. Specific medication for reducing the immune response responsible for damage to the nervous system.

Multiple sclerosis in seniors: understand their reality

Although the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS) is most established at a relatively young age, between 20 and 40 years for the majority, it is estimated that nearly 25% of the population affected by MS is still over the age of 65. While MS poses a daily challenge at any age, the disease presents a particularly unique reality for seniors due to the combination of symptoms with the normal aging process.

As life goes on, some natural physiological changes may indeed complicate the progression of the disease. Chronic inflammation, weakening of the immune system, concomitant treatment of other health problems, these are all part of the ongoing reality for elderly suffering from MS.

Solutions for seniors living with multiple sclerosis

Despite the difficulties of this unpredictable chronic disease, there are some hopeful aspects. For example, statistics indicate that the life expectancy of seniors affected by multiple sclerosis is very close to the normal range. Thanks to treatment, and good overall management, it is possible to aim for maximum quality of life, even when you must face this health condition.

Wondering what you can do concretely? Here are a few recommendations to incorporate into your everyday life:

  • Maintain an active lifestyle;
  • Eat a balanced and healthy diet;
  • Avoid smoking;
  • Make sure you get a proper dose of vitamin D.

A comfortable, stress-free environment is also an important aspect to consider. Since MS involves cyclical attacks of symptoms, good support is essential to successfully deal with the day-to-day challenges related to this disease.

Looking for a living environment adapted to your reality? At Visavie, our experienced advisors in Quebec and in Ontario will carefully guide you to the best resources:

Interested in learning more about the impact of multiple sclerosis in seniors, and the options that may be available? Please do not hesitate to contact one of our professional Visavie senior living advisors. We will be happy to guide you towards a tailor-made solution, while providing you with the right answers to each of your questions.

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