Receiving an ALS diagnosis raises numerous questions and considerations, both for the individual diagnosed and those who love them. What causes ALS? What are the symptoms now – and what will they be in the future? Where can I turn for help?
It is estimated that 30,000 people in the US are currently diagnosed with ALS, and over 5,000 new patients are diagnosed each year. Although the exact cause is unknown, research suggests multiple complex risk factors, including a doubled possibility for veterans who served in the Gulf War.
It is important to know that every individual will experience ALS in different ways. Nevertheless, there are specific commonalities which may be anticipated in each stage of this disease. Being conscious of the likely impacts of ALS will allow you prepare for and plan for appropriate assistance and support.
The First Stage of ALS
- Just one area of the body might be primarily impacted, with milder symptoms affecting other regions of the body
- The initial muscles to be impacted are typically those used for breathing, speaking, or swallowing
Watch for difficulties with:
- Gripping items
The Middle Stage of ALS
- Specific muscles may become paralyzed, and others may be weakened or completely unaffected
- Symptoms are more substantial now
- Twitching becomes obvious
Watch for issues with:
- Standing up without help
- Eating and swallowing
- Breathing – most noticeably when lying down
- Inappropriate, uncontrolled crying or laughter
The Final Stage of ALS
- Full-time care is necessary
- The ability to speak may be lost
- Eating and drinking by mouth are not possible
Watch for difficulties with:
- Paralysis in almost all voluntary muscles
- Unclear thinking
Ways To Help
Keeping the tips below in mind will allow you to deliver the most effective care for someone you love with ALS.
- People who have ALS are competent thinkers, even if they may not be in a position to communicate clearly. Speak to the individual directly about decisions to be made and engage them in problem-solving.
- Always ask prior to helping someone with ALS complete an activity. The person should continue to perform whichever duties they can and wish to do, making use of adaptive products as needed.
- Research and employ tech tools to help maintain autonomy, provide entertainment and socialization opportunities, and much more. In addition, there are plenty of adaptive tools to help with daily tasks, such as taking a shower, eating, opening jars and doors, zipping or buttoning clothing, writing, eating, and more.
At At-Home Care Company, our exceptional Des Moines elder care team is fully trained and skilled in providing support for people with ALS while fostering independence and self-sufficiency. We start with a home meeting to develop a personalized assistance plan. The plan is carefully monitored and modified as needs change over time – for the most appropriate types of support at the right times.