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ALS & Resources

Every year, approximately 5,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease).

Has someone you care about recently received this diagnosis? Are you wondering what the best way is to support them?

Read on to learn more about ALS and the resources available for patients and their caregivers.

What Is ALS?

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is a nervous system disease. It affects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord and eventually causes a loss of muscle control.

Experts don’t know exactly what causes ALS. Some cases of ALS are inherited, but others can develop it even if they do not have a family history of the disease.

Research does show that ALS risk increases with age (it’s most common among those aged 40 to their mid-60s). Men are also slightly more likely than women to develop ALS before the age of 65.

ALS Signs & Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of ALS vary from person to person. In general, though, ALS patients experience the following:

  • Difficulty walking and carrying out normal daily activities

  • Tripping or falling while walking

  • Feeling weakness in the legs, feet, or ankles

  • Increased clumsiness

  • Slurred speech

  • Trouble swallowing

  • Muscle cramps or twitching in the arms, shoulders, or tongue

Cognitive and behavioral changes can occur, too. For example, someone with ALS might start crying, laughing, or yawning at inappropriate times.

In most cases, ALS starts in the hands or feet. It then spreads to other areas of the body over time.

In the early stages of ALS, patients typically don’t experience any pain. Pain is also uncommon as the condition progresses.

How Is ALS Diagnosed?

Physicians use a variety of techniques to diagnose ALS, including the following:

  • Electromyography (EMG)

  • Nerve conduction studies

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

  • Blood and urine tests

  • Spinal taps

  • Muscle biopsies

How to Support Someone with ALS

If you’re caring for a loved one with ALS, you’re likely seeking resources that can help you provide support. Here are some ways you can do this:

Keep Learning

It’s great that you’re here learning about ALS. Don’t let your education stop here, though. The more you know, the easier it is to support your loved ones and make informed decisions about their care.

Communicate with Professionals

Stay in touch with your loved one’s healthcare team. Attend their doctor’s appointments, ask questions, and take notes or record what the doctor says so you can review it later.

Join a Support Group

Research ALS support groups in your area. These groups give you a chance to connect with other people who are going through the same thing you are.

Ask for Help

Don’t be afraid to ask for help, too. Ask friends or family members to step in and provide care so you can take a break. Consider hiring a home health aid, too, so they can receive regular care from trained medical professionals.

Get Help for Your Loved One

Do you have a loved one who’s been diagnosed with ALS? Do you need more advice on taking care of them or providing them with the best resources?

If so, we’re here to assist at EverHome Healthcare. Contact us today to learn more about our home health services and other types of care.

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