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.
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
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:
Nerve conduction studies
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
Blood and urine tests
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:
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.