Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, often disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system – the brain and the spinal cord. It is thought to be an autoimmune disease, in which the body’s defense system attacks and damages myelin, the insulating material that surrounds and protects the nerve fibers of the brain and spinal cord. This damage to the myelin and the nerve fibers forms hardened “plaques,” and the scattered distribution of these hardened or “sclerotic” areas throughout the brain and spinal cord gives rise to the name multiple sclerosis. When any part of the myelin sheath or nerve fiber is damaged or destroyed, nerve impulses to and from the brain, or within the brain, are distorted or interrupted, thereby causing clinical manifestations.
Symptoms of MS include: tingling, numbness and painful sensations. Some people experience muscle weakness, poor balance, spasticity, or paralysis that may be temporary or permanent. Problems with bladder, bowel or sexual function are common, and inordinate fatigue is often a major source of disability. MS also causes cognitive changes such as short-term memory loss and trouble concentrating. MS may cause mood swings and depression. Symptoms vary greatly in type and severity from one person to another and often come and go unpredictably. The more severe form may cause dysphagia (difficulty swallowing), silent aspiration (not being aware of inhaling liquids or food), very limited mobility causing the person to become wheelchair bound with little or no arm and leg movement, and severe depression.
The needs that are generated by progressive MS can be met by some assisted living communities; however, those with more severe MS may not be appropriate in all facilities. For example, many assisted living programs might not have the resources to have a comprehensive and on-site equipment program; many assisted living communities cannot and do not accept those who require a pureed diet (necessary for those who have dysphagia) or feeding tube; many assisted livings cannot accept those who are wheelchair bound; and many facilities do not have round the clock nursing supervision necessary for many severe MS patients. Plus, in some assisted living communities comprehensive on-site rehabilitation therapies (occupational, physical and speech therapies) are not part of the usual cluster of services offered to residents and those with MS require these amenities to help control symptoms.
The Kensington is different!
We are licensed as an enhanced assisted living residence. This enhanced license allows our team to manage those with central nervous system disorders including severe Multiple Sclerosis. We can and do take care of those who require a pureed diet, feeding tube, are wheelchair bound, two or three-person assist, incontinent, and more. Our certified care team including 24/7 nurses effectively address the needs of our residents including those with Multiple Sclerosis. In addition, the Kensington has partnered with Health SOS Rehabilitation to provide a customized in-house program of physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy, minimizing or preventing complications and health problems related to inactivity, improve comfort and quality of life, and optimizing functioning for persons with MS.
According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, moderate exercise can be of benefit to people with MS. The Kensington provides our residents with Health SOS Rehabilitation. This is an on-site wellness program designed to fit all cognitive and fitness levels of our residents. The Health SOS Rehabilitation Program targets specific resident deficits and customizes wellness programming specific to each resident including those who have MS.
Wellness Programs are conducted 5 days per week. Through Health SOS Rehabilitation, (programs such as daily stretching and other exercises) we are looking to help relieve spasticity, increase strength and mobility, and help alleviate some symptoms of MS.
The Kensington also provides the opportunity for individual consultations with psychiatrists, psychologists, a podiatrist, neurologist, assistive technology experts, and more. Residents with MS benefit from access to these on-site rehabilitation and medical professionals, who in turn provide assessments, prescribe an exercise program or ongoing therapy.
If you’re the primary caregiver for an individual with MS, “caregiver burnout” is a very real—and very common—problem. Caregiver burnout is a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion that occurs when someone is responsible for the long-term care of another person 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Caregivers often experience symptoms of fatigue, anxiety, stress and depression. They feel guilty when they take time out for themselves—or neglect their own physical and emotional needs altogether.
At The Kensington, we believe that caregivers shouldn’t have to shoulder the burden alone—we’re here to help and we are dedicated to the long-term care of people with MS, thus allowing the caregiver to go back to playing the role of daughter/son or well-spouse.