Caregiving for Patients with Multiple Sclerosis
Posted by Mike Huber
at 27 April, 2:09 PM 0
Multiple Sclerosis, or M.S., is a disease that progressively becomes worse and affects the nervous system. The cause of M.S. is unknown, but it’s estimated that between 250,000-350,000 individuals suffer from M.S. in the US alone. M.S. is five times more prevalent in climates with moderate temperatures such as northern US, Canada and Europe.
Patients with M.S. have varying degrees of severity. The location of affected nerves is also different patient by patient. Flare ups or episodes, also called exacerbations, can last for days, months and even years. Nerves in any part of the brain can be affected therefore patients may suffer from: loss of balance, spasms of the muscles, constipation, urine leakage, double vision, decreased attention span, difficulty reasoning, dizziness, slurred speech, trouble chewing or swallowing, severe fatigue, among other symptoms.
As the caregiver of an individual suffering from M.S., it’s important to understand the disease and your role. Your goals should be to:
- Keep clients as mobile as possible to help with balance and motor functions
- As the disease progresses, caregivers will need to ensure that proper urination takes place.
- Additionally, working on respiratory function is suggested to prevent infections.
During flare ups or exacerbations home health care providers will need to address certain issues that often afflict those with MS. Patients on bed rest should be helped in maintaining proper body alignment and position. Protect the skin from any possible friction to avoid bed sores and skin infections. Make sure the patient has a portable bedpan or urinal nearby – those with M.S. often have issues urinating and the need to illuminate is often immediate.
Additional responsibilities of a caregiver should include promoting bladder and bowel elimination. Help the patient establish a routine and encourage daily exercise, but rest often to avoid fatigue. Motor functions and mobility are often decreased as the onset of M.S. increases. Speak with patients about the importance of regular exercise to help reduce their risk of falling or worsening symptoms.
As with any patient, caregivers should provide emotional support to not only the patient but also the family. A condition like M.S. is lifelong and can be quite a struggle to deal with. Help family and the patient to learn how to cope and stay positive.
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Post Author: Mike Huber
Bio: Mike writes on a number of topics but his main focus is on search, social and content marketing. Mike is an accomplished public speaker and presents frequently on advertising and internet marketing topics.When not at work, you’ll find Mike out hiking or fly fishing.