Amyotrophic Lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a neuromuscular disease. It begins as muscular weakness but gradually causes paralysis of the entire body. The condition is also referred to as motor neuron or Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The situation is more common amongst the male population. Understanding the basis of (ALS) will help plan better strategies for their loved ones.
Amyotrophic Lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a neuromuscular disease. It begins as muscular weakness but slowly causes paralysis of the entire body. The condition is also referred to as motor neuron or Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The situation is more common amongst the men population. Understanding the basis of ALS would help plan better strategies for their loved ones.
Symptoms of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
In the initial stages, the symptoms of ALS are so mild and insignificant that they are often ignored. The common symptoms of ALS include the following:
Weakness in the legs and arms
The muscles of the tongue can also weaken. Causing difficulty while speaking and swallowing
Since the muscles of the arms and legs are first affected, individuals are prone to fall and stumble during the initial stages. This may be followed by uncontrollable bouts of laughter, crying, or even slurred speech.
In more advanced stages, breathing becomes difficult. And our affected loved ones may also complain of shortness of breath. Some of our loved ones may also need the help of a ventilator to breathe. Amyotrophic Lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive disease. And with each passing stage, muscular weakness becomes more severe. Finally, they are paving the way for paralysis to set in. But, no matter how tough the disease evolves. It will never affect the sense of touch, sight, taste, smell, and hearing. This means ALS’s five senses stay intact, unlike other neuromuscular diseases.
Coping strategies for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
Living with ALS is not an easy task. And our loved ones will require a lot of courage and support to continue to live with the disease. It is necessary to give time to our loved ones to grieve the condition. The following coping strategies can help our aging seniors gracefully cope with ALS.
Take your time to accept the diagnosis. The news of a diagnosis of AL can be devastating, and you may need time to get the fact. In addition, you and your family would need some time to grieve after the diagnosis.
Don’t lose hope. Being hopeful is the most effective medicine for the disease. The palliative care team will help you focus on the positive aspects. And will also help you live a quality life. Usually, the life expectancy rate is around 3 – 5 years for individuals with ALS. However, some live as long as ten years after a diagnosed with ALS. So being hopeful can help you live a contented and quality life.
Physical incapability is not the end of the road. ALS restricts the individual’s ability to carry out daily tasks due to muscle weakness. Paralysis is often inevitable in such cases. This makes the individual more prone to depression. However, thinking of ALS as just an insignificant part of your life. This will help you believe in a positive direction. And will also help you live a fulfilling life.
Tips to take care of your loved ones with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
Understand the disease. Understanding ALS and its symptoms can help you as a caregiver give proper care to your loved one. ALS limits one’s physical ability, which can cause emotional havoc. As a caregiver, you need to understand their physical and emotional condition. And chalk out better strategies to help them live with the disease.
Take charge of their skin health. It has been often seen that our aging parents with ALS also suffer from skin problems. Pressure wounds and bedsores are common accompaniment that requires prompt treatment. Caregivers should keep checking for such wounds and get them treated on time. Check out my post on how to help with bed sores.
Help your loved ones with breathing exercises. ALS is a progressive disease. Which gradually affects the respiratory system, affecting one’s ability to breathe. With breathing exercises, the shortness of breath will lessen. And your loved ones experience less difficulty while living.
Help them with dietary changes. Constipation is again a common problem with individuals who have ALS. As muscle weakness progresses, it also cripples bowel movements. Therefore, feeding your loved ones a fiber-rich diet to ease constipation is a good idea. After consulting with the doctor, you can also consider giving them stool softeners. Check out my post on constipation.
Speech therapy. ALS also massively affects the speech of your loved ones. For this, speech therapy is necessary. So that your loved ones can continue to communicate with you and other family members; however, if speech is wholly lost, a speech therapist will assist with other methods of communication.
These strategies will help you to help your loved ones deal with Amyotrophic Lateral sclerosis (ALS). This will also help caregivers plan better caregiving strategies for their loved ones.
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