Here are my facts: At 15 years old, the doctor said he thought I might have MS, but the diagnostic equipment couldn’t prove it back in 1982. By 1996, another doctor said it was probably MS. In 2001, I was diagnosed and began Avonex. Over the years, I took hiatuses between therapies for several months. Otherwise, I’ve always been on a treatment – Avonex – 2 years, Copaxone – 5 years, Rebif – 2 years, Gilenya – 9 months (stop taking that medication if you develop a cough), and Tecfidera – 8 years. In 2011, I left my career as an educator for medical disability. Since that time, my symptoms have improved and almost disappeared. Why?
Matt Hoffman noted, “A lot of the studies have shown that the older you get, the fewer relapses there are, the less MRI changes, the less disease activity…” He also questioned whether the treatments for MS are appropriate for older patients. As MS improves with age, are the symptoms patients experience related to the disease or inflammation affecting old lesions? What role do infections older people experience play in reoccurring symptoms? Should older MS patients be on MS medication at all? Now there’s a study for you! My question is: how old is old enough to be considered older? I’m 54 years old, and I’ve noticed my MS has improved.
Depression seems to improve in MS patients as they age too. (Gordon) And, something to look forward to as you age – patients learn to manage their illnesses better. We know what to expect because we have been down that road before and understand the triggers.
The statistics in Brichford’s article that raised my eyebrow are:
– “as many as 90 percent of these people reach a stage known as secondary-progressive MS (SPMS),”
– “… people with MS had a median life span of 75.9 years, while for people without MS, it was 83.4 years” (Manitoba, Canada)
– “… the average life expectancy was found to be 74.7 years among people with MS compared with 81.8 years in the general population.” (Norway)
And from Neurology (July 2015), “The most common causes of death in the MS population were diseases of the nervous system and diseases of the circulatory system. Mortality rates due to infectious diseases and diseases of the respiratory system were higher in the MS population.”
On a positive note, the Wyoming Jeepers were out scouting for a great place to film in the future. We explored the South Fork area near Yellowstone the day after Christmas – the snow making the day seem magical. If you enjoy incredible scenery and a good sense of humor, check out the Wyoming Jeepers on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC61QNISnwvMuj1IcZuX3niQ/videos to see what I do for a bit of fun.
Brichford, Connie. “How Age Affects Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms and Progression.” Everyday Health. https://www.everydayhealth.com/multiple-sclerosis/symptoms/multiple-sclerosis-age-progression/. August 18, 2021.
Gordon, Serena. “For Many With MS, Well-Being Increases With Age.” WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/multiple-sclerosis/news/20180928/for-many-with-ms-well-being-increases-with-age. September 28, 2018..
Headline. “MS and Age: Ways Your Condition Evolves Over Time.” https://www.healthline.com/health/ms/ms-and-age. April 19, 2019.
Hoffman, Matt. “What Role Does Age Play in Multiple Sclerosis?” NeurologyLive. https://www.neurologylive.com/view/what-role-does-age-play-in-multiple-sclerosis. April 15, 2020.