Being diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease) raises numerous questions and concerns, both for the person diagnosed and people who love them. What causes ALS? What are the current symptoms – and what will they be as time goes on? Where can I turn for help?
Approximately 30,000 people in the United States are currently living with ALS, and over 5,000 new patients are diagnosed each year. Although the specific cause is not certain, research suggests several complex risk factors, including a doubled possibility for servicemen and women who served during the Gulf War.
It is important to understand that each and every individual will experience ALS uniquely. Nevertheless, there are particular commonalities that may be expected in each stage of this disease. Being conscious of the possible effects of ALS can help you prepare for and plan the most appropriate assistance and support.
The Initial Stage of ALS
- One area of the body may be primarily impacted, with less severe symptoms affecting other regions
- The initial muscles affected are typically those utilized for breathing, speaking, or swallowing
Watch for problems with:
- Grasping objects
The Middle Stage of ALS
- Certain muscles may experience paralysis, while others are weakened or entirely unchanged
- Symptoms are usually more extensive now
- Twitching becomes obvious
Watch out for problems with:
- Standing upright without help
- Eating and swallowing
- Breathing – most noticeably when lying down
- Inappropriate, uncontrolled crying or laughter
The Late Stage of ALS
- Full-time care is required
- The capacity to speak could be lost
- Eating and drinking by mouth are no longer possible
Watch out for issues with:
- Paralysis in nearly all voluntary muscles
- Confused thinking
Ways You Can Help
Keeping the following in mind makes it possible to provide the best care for someone you love who is living with ALS.
- Individuals with ALS are proficient thinkers, regardless of whether they are capable of communicating clearly. Speak to the individual directly about choices to be made and engage with them in regard to problem-solving.
- Always inquire before helping a loved one with ALS complete an activity. The individual should continue to manage any tasks they are able to and wish to do, using adaptive products as necessary.
- Investigate and implement tech tools to help preserve self-reliance, provide entertainment and socialization opportunities, and more. In addition, there are a great many adaptive tools to help with everyday tasks, such as eating, writing, opening doors and jars, buttoning or zipping clothing, taking a shower, and more.
At Inspired Home Care, our award-winning Barrington senior care team is fully trained and experienced in providing support for people with ALS while fostering independence and self-sufficiency. We begin with a complimentary in-home consultation to develop a personalized care plan that will be carefully monitored and adjusted as needs evolve– for the perfect level of care at the right time.