Caring for Residents with Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, often disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system that affects an estimated 400,000 Americans.  As an increasing number of young and middle-aged persons with disabilities turn to assisted living and residential care for services, the demand to care for persons with MS becomes more common.

In their free publication Assisted Living for Individuals with Multiple Sclerosis, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society recommends addressing the following needs when planning care for persons with MS:

  • Supervision to maximize safety. Safety concerns may arise when mobility problems, such as problems with balance, lack of coordination and weakness increase the likelihood of falls or other injuries and accidents.
  • Supervision due to cognitive deficits. Additional safety concerns may arise when cognitive deficits impair judgment, memory, ability to make good decisions, and/or the ability to safely implement one’s daily routine.
  • Opportunities for socialization and involvement in a community. Individuals with MS who are living alone often experience increased isolation as their disease worsens, especially if it has become more difficult to work or engage in volunteer pursuits. Concerns about falling, experiencing bowel or bladder accidents, cognitive changes, and issues regarding the accessibility of the home and community all contribute to social isolation.
  • Assistance with activities of daily living. As we stress throughout this document, MS is very variable and individuals with the disease present with a wide range of needs for ADL assistance. Most typically, residents in assisted living residences with MS will be able to manage dressing, grooming, feeding, and toileting relatively independently or with minimal to moderate assistance. Some will likely be ambulatory, with or without an assistive device (cane, crutches, walker). Many will use a manual or power operated wheelchair, but they will generally be able to transfer independently or with minimal assistance and mobilize their wheeled mobility independently. This level of independence in transfers and mobility is frequently a requirement of assisted living programs or of fire safety regulations in the state.

Click here to download  Assisted Living for Individuals with Multiple Sclerosis.

2 Responses to “Caring for Residents with Multiple Sclerosis”

  1. I am here researching assisted living for my mom, who is suffering from advanced MS. She needs help with just about everything, and it is very difficult to find the right place for her. Currently, she is in an assisted living facility with much older residents, some of whom have alzheimers, and it is just not a good situation for her. Plus, she actually requires more physical care than many of the other residents, and I don’t think the staff knows quite how to help her adequately. Can anyone advise me about what I can do for her? Thank you.

  2. Hello Joe. I would suggest contacting your local chapter of the MS Society. They are often aware of local resources, communities, etc. You can find your chapter here:

Discussion Area - Leave a Comment