Older people with MS

I am 21 years of age and I was diagnosed with ms last year. I’m worried about getting older. I’ve seen so many things about people having to use wheelchairs and getting a lot worse the older they get. Is this the same for everyone? Or can some older people with MS still walk and look after themselves? I feel so nervous about this.

Hi Amelia,

No, not everyone with MS will ever need a wheelchair. It’s too early in the morning for me to start Googling to check - I’ve not finished my first coffee yet - but I believe the figure is only about 1 in 3 (that is, two thirds won’t).

Of those that do, not all will need it permanently - some choosing only to use it for particularly demanding days, or longer distances, or during a relapse.

Try not to worry about the future. I must admit, I do worry about getting old in this country - MS or not. But my great aunt lived to 87 with MS, and as far as anybody knows, did not need a wheelchair until her last few months of life. I’ve no idea what age she was diagnosed - probably at a more advanced stage than would be the norm today, as they didn’t have MRI etc.

But in general, being diagnosed young is statistically associated with a better course, believe it or not. It’s not the case that if you started young, you must be worse at an earlier age. It seems progression tends to be slower. Statistics are not a personal guarantee, but they can tell us something about what happens to most people.



Hello Amelia !!! How are yer? Ah Tina beat me to it (back at work today after weeks hols). I was dx 19 years ago at 25, after severe headaches and blurrysight, but I’d been having episodes through uni. … To look at me you wouldn’t know anything was wrong. (Not m.s. anyway :wink: ) As Dr said, there’s such a vast spectrum, everyone is different, with different degrees of symptoms. Research needs money, so they’re more likely to give cash when people see bods in wheelchairs than someone who looks ‘normal’. Un pc, but hard truth. ms can be aggresive or benign. You have youth on your side… this site is helpful and supportive, or you can ignore it for a decade like I did. :wink: Take care, Andy

Hi Amelia,

I am partly your worst fear - older (61) and using a wheelchair. But I can look after myself and lead a very full and active life.

I was 40 when I was dx so already married, a mum and had a good career - however it would take too much time to list all the things I did after dx. In the early years the effects of MS were not too bad but I lived every day with the idea that in the future things might not be so easy. I didn’t let those thoughts bog me down but spur me on to get on with things. For example I’m glad I got to know Paris while I was still walking because it’s not the most disabled friendly city!

Tina is right not to worry. I’m not saying that MS has not had a profound impact on my life but nothing is as bad as your imagination will make it. You will hear a lot about a positive attitude and whilst I don’t subscribe to the happy clappy brigade I think you can waste your life fretting about things that you have no control over.


None taken Jane. :wink: What I meant is you can fret about shit that can happen in ten, twenty years time, and it doesn’t, or you can live your life and cross that bridge when you come to it. I’m not on any meds, nor is Tina. Others are and swear by them. Half empty, half full, or some buggers nicked your glass entirely. All in the same boat, just some can row… hugs and ice cream. Now, back to stoopid, don’t like the serious