One of the things people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) dread most about the disease is losing their independence because of mobility problems. Fortunately, there are lots of mobility aids available that can help your elder family member with MS to get around more easily on their own. And, using a mobility aid makes it less likely that they will fall and be injured.
MS Symptoms that Affect Mobility
The symptoms of MS vary and can be unpredictable. What one person experiences, the next person may not. However, there are several common MS symptoms that can affect a person’s ability to get around independently, such as:
- Weakened muscles
- Poor balance
- Numbness or tingling in the lower extremities
- Poor vision
- Cognitive problems
- Loss of coordination
Types of Mobility Aids
There is a wide variety of mobility aids available, and the one that will work best for your aging relative will depend on their specific needs. Some of the aids that are available are:
Braces: Braces, or orthoses, come in many styles. An ankle foot orthoses, or AFO, is a brace commonly used to help a person with weakness or paralysis that causes the front part of the foot to drop when walking. The AFO supports the foot and prevents tripping.
Canes: Canes come in lots of different styles. Some have a single point, others have three or four. They can be purchased in a variety of heights, and some are adjustable. They provide support and stability.
Crutches: Crutches can be either under-the-arm crutches or forearm crutches. Forearm crutches are often used when the need is long-term because they are more comfortable to use.
Walkers: There are a couple different kinds of walkers: the standard walker and the rollator. A standard walker must be lifted and moved forward as the person walks. A rollator has four wheels, so it is easier to use.
Wheelchairs: Wheelchairs are available in two types: manual wheelchairs and motorized wheelchairs.
Power Scooters: Scooters are useful for outings where the person might have to walk longer than they are able to. They are battery-operated and come in many styles.
The first step in choosing the right mobility aid usually starts with the MS patient’s doctor who can make a recommendation and write a prescription for the device. You may also wish to talk to the senior’s occupational or physical therapist for assistance in choosing the right device.
Elder care providers can also help older adults with MS to get around more safely and efficiently. An elder care provider can help the person to get up from a chair and lend an arm to lean on. An elder care provider can also transfer the senior from a wheelchair to another chair or bed. Elder care providers can also help make certain wheelchair and scooter batteries are charged and ready for use.