Aker Kasten Blog

How a Personal Care Aide Can Help One Live Well with Multiple Sclerosis

by: John Aker | March 1st, 2017

Personal Care AideMultiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, progressive disease of the central nervous system which currently affects approximately 400,000 people in the U.S. In recognition of National Multiple Sclerosis Education and Awareness month, we would like to offer some information for families. With a progressive disease like MS, education about the disease can lead to better management of symptoms.

Living With MS

People with MS typically don’t appear outwardly ill but that doesn’t mean the disease isn’t always present. In fact, 86% of MS sufferers list fatigue as the number one symptom of their disease. The exact mechanism of MS fatigue is not known, but studies suggest that changes in the brain caused by MS may require persons with MS to use five times more effort to complete a simple task than a person without MS, especially if aggravated by stress, activity, fever, and heat exposure.

MS fatigue is not just being tired — it is like having the flu without the other symptoms. Although MS fatigue is common and frustrating, there are things one can do to fight fatigue and increase energy.

A few hours a day of practical assistance from a professional personal care aide from Aker Kasten Home Health Care who is trained in MS care can save energy sources from being drained.

How Home Care Can Help

Nourishing a person’s mind, body and spirit are essential when helping a person with MS stay motivated and enabled. Due to the changeability of the disease, the type and degree of help needed will vary from person to person and may even vary from time to time for the same individual. As with any ailment that requires caregiving, family members can become burnt out or simply not know how to help. Turning to a professional personal care aide for some respite help can be extremely valuable to provide families with a break and some education. Here are a few of the ways a home health care agency can help.

MIND – Professional personal care aides can help family members with their understanding of MS and their ability to make lifestyle adjustments. For instance, they can help establish a daily routine, stressing the importance of limiting activities and taking regular rest periods to prevent fatigue and symptom exacerbations. They can also provide tips and techniques for easier bathing and dressing, assisting as needed.

BODY – Physical limitations play a big part in the caregiving role for MS. It is important to know how to address these. A personal care aide will help with all of these:

  • If the MS patient is on bed rest, maintaining proper body alignment when positioning
  • Protecting skin from friction, pressure, and excessive heat, moisture, or dryness
  • Assisting with body mechanics for good posture, alignment and improved gait
  • Encouraging daily exercise and assisting with physical therapy
  • Providing tasty, nourishing meals and assistance with eating if needed

SPIRIT – The power of mind over body is key in any disease, but really plays a big role in MS. Keeping spirits high will go a long way in managing the disease and making life more enjoyable. Personal care aides from a home health care agency are not only physical helpers but know tips/tricks to help lift spirits, such as:

  • Offering comfort measures, such as gentle massage and warm (not hot) baths
  • Encouraging independence by being sensitive to knowing when to take and then give back responsibility for tasks as symptoms come and go
  • Providing emotional support
  • Providing recommendations for devices designed to make daily activities more comfortable, such as built-up utensils, reaching devices, and sliding boards

Looking for more information?  There are many great online resources and support forums for family members to connect.  Here are a few favorites:

With various adjustments made along the way, most individuals with MS may look forward to a fulfilling and productive lifetime. A personal care aide experienced in MS care such as at Aker Kasten Home Health Care can help with interventions to fight MS fatigue. Contact Aker Kasten Home Health Care in Delray Beach and the surrounding area for more information on how our in-home personal care aides can make a person with MS feel enabled, motivated and connected to others.

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