Being diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (also referred to as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease) raises countless questions and considerations, both for the person diagnosed and the ones who love them. What can cause ALS? What are the current symptoms – and how will they change over time? Who can I go to for help?
An estimated 30,000 people in the United States are currently identified as having ALS, and more than 5,000 new patients are diagnosed each year. Though the precise cause is unknown, studies suggest multiple complex risk factors, including a doubled risk for servicemen and women who served during the Gulf War.
It is essential to know that each individual will experience ALS uniquely. Nevertheless, there are certain commonalities that may be expected in each stage of this disease. Being aware of the likely impacts help you plan the best type of assistance when for caring for ALS at home.
The Initial Stage of ALS
- Just one part of the body might be primarily impacted, with less severe symptoms affecting other regions
- The first muscles to be impacted tend to be those used for breathing, speaking, or swallowing
Watch out for problems with:
- Gripping objects
The Middle Stage of ALS
- Particular muscles may experience paralysis, while others may be weakened or entirely unchanged
- Symptoms tend to be more substantial now
- Twitching becomes visible
Watch out for problems with:
- Standing unassisted
- Eating and swallowing
- Breathing – most noticeably when lying down
- Inappropriate, uncontrolled crying or laughter
The Final Stage of ALS
- Full-time care is required
- The capability to speak may be lost
- Eating and drinking by mouth are no longer possible
Watch out for issues with:
- Paralysis in almost all voluntary muscles
- Confused thinking
Ways You Can Help in Caring for ALS at Home
Keeping the tips below in mind will allow you to provide the best assistance for someone you love with ALS.
- Individuals with ALS are proficient thinkers, even if they’re not able to communicate clearly. Talk to the individual directly about choices to be made and engage them with regard to problem-solving.
- Always ask before helping someone with ALS perform a task. The person should continue to manage whatever tasks they can and wish to do, utilizing adaptive solutions when needed.
- Research and implement tech tools to help preserve independence, provide entertainment and socialization opportunities, and much more. In addition, there are an array of adaptive devices to help with everyday activities, like eating, writing, opening doors and jars, buttoning or zipping clothing, taking a shower, and more.
If you’re caring for someone with ALS at home, you don’t have to go it alone. At Morning Glory Home Care, our award-winning Highland home health care team is fully trained and experienced in providing support for individuals with ALS while encouraging independence and self-sufficiency. We start out with a free in-home consultation to develop a unique plan of care, which is carefully monitored and adjusted as needs change with time – for the perfect level of care at the right time.