ALS is an acronym for a disease called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. It is perhaps better known by its other name—Lou Gehrig’s disease, so named for a famous baseball player whose career ended when he was diagnosed. It is a disease that can be diagnosed at any age. In fact, it is most commonly diagnosed in people who are between the ages of 40 and mid-60s. ALS is a progressive and incurable disease. People who have it typically live between 3 and 5 years after diagnosis. However, some live longer. 10 percent of people with ALS live more than a decade. Because it’s important to plan for the future when an older family member is diagnosed with ALS, knowing the signs can help you to receive a diagnosis sooner, allowing the planning to begin earlier.
One of the most difficult things about recognizing ALS in an older adult is that the symptoms can be so different from one person to the next. The symptoms a person experiences depends on which neurons are impacted by the disease. Some of the common symptoms of ALS include:
- Clumsiness: A person in the early stages of ALS may seem to be clumsy. They might stumble often when they walk. They may even fall. Weakness in the hands might also make them drop things.
- Speech Changes: When facial muscles and the tongue are affected, the senior might speak differently than they used to. You may notice their speech is slurred.
- Posture Changes: ALS can make it hard to keep the head up and cause a slouched posture because the muscles don’t support the body well anymore.
- Muscle Problems: Cramping and muscle stiffness are common with ALS.
Many people have their first symptoms in their hands, feet, arms, or legs. As more nerve cells die off, the symptoms will spread to other areas. Most people don’t experience pain due to ALS, but it is possible. ALS usually does not affect bladder control, either.
Planning for the Future
As the disease progresses, your aging family member will require more care. Eventually, they will need someone to help them throughout the day. Family caregivers are likely to need outside help to cover all the hours of the day. Home care can be an excellent resource for filling those gaps on the senior’s care calendar. A home care provider can offer all the non-medical care that a family member can, including assisting with eating, bathing, and toileting. In addition, a home care provider can offer emotional support, companionship, and activities that help pass the time enjoyably.
If you or an aging loved one are considering Home Care in Naples, FL, call the caring staff at Dial-a-Nurse today. Naples: (239) 434-8000. Ft. Myers: (239) 939-1228.