Receiving a diagnosis of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (commonly known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease) raises countless questions and concerns, both for the individual who received the diagnosis and those who love them. What causes ALS? What are the symptoms now – and what will they be in the future? Who can I go to for help?
Approximately 30,000 people in the US are presently diagnosed with ALS, and over 5,000 new patients are diagnosed every year. Although the precise cause is not certain, studies suggest a number of complex risk factors, including a twofold risk for servicemen and women who served in the Gulf War.
It is vital to know that each person will experience ALS uniquely. Nevertheless, there are certain characteristics that can be anticipated in each stage of the disease. Being aware of the impacts of ALS will allow you to prepare for and plan the most appropriate form of care and support.
The Initial Stage of ALS
- One section of the body might be primarily affected, with milder symptoms affecting other regions of the body
- The initial muscles damaged are typically those utilized for breathing, speaking, or swallowing
Watch for difficulties with:
- Grasping items
The Middle Stage of ALS
- Certain muscles may become paralyzed, while others are weakened or totally unaffected
- Symptoms tend to be more extensive now
- Twitching becomes obvious
Watch for difficulties with:
- Standing up unassisted
- Eating and swallowing
- Breathing – most noticeably when lying down
- Inappropriate, uncontrolled emotions like crying or laughter
The Final Stage of ALS
- Full-time care is necessary
- The ability to speak might be lost
- Eating and drinking by mouth are no longer possible
Watch for issues with:
- Paralysis in nearly all voluntary muscles
- Confused thinking
How You Can Help
Keeping the following in mind makes it possible to provide the most effective assistance for a person you love with ALS.
- People who have ALS are proficient thinkers, even if they are not capable of communicating clearly. Talk to the individual directly regarding choices to be made and engage them in creating decisions and problem-solving.
- Always ask prior to helping someone with ALS complete a task. The individual should continue to manage any activities they can and wish to do, using adaptive products when needed.
- Research and implement tech tools to help maintain self-reliance, provide entertainment and socialization opportunities, and more. In addition, there are a lot of adaptive tools to help with daily activities, including taking a shower, eating, opening jars and doors, zipping or buttoning clothing, writing, eating, and more.
Understanding ALS is the first step to finding the best possible care for a loved one. At Abby Senior Care, our award-winning experts in senior home care in Denver and the surrounding areas are fully trained in providing support for those with ALS while encouraging independence and self-sufficiency. We start with a free in-home consultation to develop a personalized plan of assistance. Along the way, the plan will be carefully monitored and adjusted as needs evolve with time – for the perfect degree of care at the right time.