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Does Multiple Sclerosis Cause You To Need Assistance With Daily Tasks? Look For These 3 Features In An Assisted Living Facility

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Multiple sclerosis, being a progressive disease, often worsens to the point where it's unsafe to live alone. Fall risk is the biggest danger of progressive multiple sclerosis. Multiple sclerosis often causes a lack of balance, which drastically increases fall risk—bathing and other activities can become very dangerous.

Moving into an assisted living facility can help keep you safe. Staff is always available to help you with the tasks of daily living such as bathing, eating, and using the bathroom, which reduces the risk of accidental injury. To help you find the best facility for your needs, here are three things you should look for:

1. Diverse Age Range in the Population of Residents

It's no secret that the majority of assisted living facility residents are elderly. If you're young and moving into assisted living because of multiple sclerosis, this may be a strange experience. When you're looking at prospective places to move to, it's a good idea to ask the coordinator how many young residents they have. At a facility with several younger residents, you'll have more social opportunities. As an added bonus, staff will have more experience attending to the needs of younger residents as well, such as scheduling trips and hosting activities that are geared more towards younger people.

Of course, living with elderly residents can be a fun experience as well. Intergenerational bridge games can definitely be an interesting experience for someone who hasn't played before. You'll also be able to meet elderly residents' families, who are more likely to be in your age range. You can also work as a volunteer within the assisted living facility to help elderly residents with tasks they're unfamiliar with like using computers and smartphones.

2. Private Rooms With Your Own Thermostat

Having your own air conditioner may seem like a minor consideration, but it certainly isn't minor when you have multiple sclerosis. Heat often exacerbates multiple sclerosis symptoms, so you should be able to keep your room as cold as you want. Ideally, you should have a private room so that your preferred temperatures won't cause your roommate to become uncomfortable.

3. Staff Has Experience Caring for Residents With Multiple Sclerosis

The staff should have some training on how to attend to the needs of people who have multiple sclerosis. As mentioned above, the staff at most assisted living facilities will typically have more experience dealing with elderly residents. The mobility issues such as spasming and ataxia that are caused by multiple sclerosis are different than the mobility issues cause by osteoarthritis, and the cognitive impairment caused by multiple sclerosis is much different than the impairment caused by dementia. The staff needs to have adequate training to understand how the needs of a multiple sclerosis resident compare to the needs of an elderly resident with poor mobility and mild cognitive impairment.

For example, people who have multiple sclerosis often experience acute fatigue during the middle of the day. You may feel like taking a nap. The assisted living facility should offer a flexible schedule in order to accommodate you—if lunch is at a set time every day and no deviation is allowed, you may end up sleeping through lunch on a regular basis. Additionally, multiple sclerosis symptoms tend to worsen as the day goes on. The staff needs to be understanding of this fact and provide extra support during the afternoon, as you may have difficulty performing daily living activities during this time.

Additionally, multiple sclerosis flare-ups can cause symptoms to become debilitating for a period of time. The staff at the assisted living facility need to recognize this fact and be available to provide extra support during flares.

Ultimately, the best way to find an assisted living facility for multiple sclerosis care is to speak to the coordinators at prospective facilities in your area. Ask about the ages of the residents and whether or not the staff has training and experience caring for people with multiple sclerosis. Be diligent in your search, and you'll eventually find an assisted living facility that meets your special needs.