Receiving a diagnosis of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (also referred to as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease) raises many questions and worries, both for the person diagnosed and those who love them. What causes ALS? What are the symptoms now – and what will they be later on? Where can I turn for help?
Approximately 30,000 people in the US are currently diagnosed with ALS, and more than 5,000 new patients are diagnosed every year. Although the precise cause is uncertain, research suggests several complex risk factors, including a twofold risk for veterans who served in the Gulf War.
It is crucial to know that every person will experience ALS in their own way. Still, there are certain characteristics which may be anticipated in each stage of the disease. Being aware of the likely effects of ALS can help you prepare for and plan the most appropriate kind of assistance and support.
The Initial Stage of ALS
- Only one section of the body might be primarily affected, with less severe symptoms affecting other regions
- The initial muscles affected tend to be those utilized for speaking, swallowing, or breathing
Watch for problems with:
- Gripping items
The Middle Stage of ALS
- Specific muscles may become paralyzed, and others may be weakened or totally unchanged
- Symptoms are more extensive now
- Twitching becomes noticeable
Watch out for issues with:
- Standing 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 required
- The ability to speak might be lost
- Eating and drinking by mouth are no longer possible
Watch for difficulties with:
- Paralysis in almost all voluntary muscles
- Unclear thinking
Ways You Can Help with ALS Care
Keeping the tips below in mind makes it possible to provide the best possible ALS care for your loved one.
- People with ALS are proficient thinkers, even though they may not be able to communicate clearly. Talk to the individual directly regarding choices to be made and engage them with regard to making decisions and problem-solving.
- Always ask prior to helping a person with ALS accomplish an activity. The person should keep doing whichever activities they are able to and wish to do, utilizing adaptive devices as needed.
- investigate and employ tech tools to help preserve self-reliance, provide entertainment and socialization opportunities, and much more. Additionally, 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 much more.
At Hearts at Home In-Home Care, our experts in at-home care in Kansas City and the surrounding areas are fully trained and experienced in providing support for individuals with ALS. We also focus on fostering independence and self-sufficiency. We start with an in-home conversation to understand needs and develop a personalized plan of support. This plan is then carefully monitored and modified as needs evolve over time – for the most appropriate level of care at the right time.