ALS stands for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and is often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease after the baseball legend who suffered from ALS brought it to the public’s view. It is a progressive disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. It inhibits messages from the brain to muscles throughout the body. With no nourishment or stimulation, the muscles weaken to a state of being unworkable. Nerve cells in the spinal cord harden and form scars from disuse.
Taste, hearing, and touch are all retained by someone with ALS. Lou Gehrig’s, their sense of smell or sight will not be affected. Even when other muscles of the body degenerate, a person with ALS often retains control of their bladder and eye movement. In most cases, end-stage ALS necessitates the use of a breathing machine. Because they cannot turn in bed, a loved one, or other caregivers will have to turn them periodically every few hours to prevent bedsores and pneumonia.
The similarity of ALS to other diseases is a cause of misdiagnosis. When Lou Gehrig’s illness is detected, life expectancy can be up to five years. Some people have had the disease for more than ten years. Though there are many similarities, each person is unique, as is their physical ability to execute tasks like walking and eating.
At The Start: ALS in Its Initial Stages
Lou Gehrig’s disease could be difficult to detect in its beginning phases. Muscle weakness or slurred speech may be evident in the individual suffering symptoms. It may be difficult for them to grasp an object; numbness might affect any part of their body at any time, or it may get progressively hard to swallow.
ALS Disease Progression
In the early stages of ALS, a cane can be highly beneficial. Offer your hand to your loved one to grip onto, and be available to assist if needed. Many people find it difficult to rely on others, so it’s essential to give support only when requested.
It will become more challenging to move, express oneself, and ingest food as time goes on. Whether at home or in an assisted living center, a caretaker will be essential at some point. A skilled nursing institution or hospice is imperative at a certain point.
Because Lou Gehrig’s disease impacts people differently, there is no predetermined schedule for treatment. The condition is rapidly progressing. There are times when symptoms reverse, but they rarely last as long as the person with ALS would hope.
Making the Transition to Hospice
Even if you elect to have hospice care delivered to your home for final consideration, the impact on you as a caregiver might be overwhelming at times. It’s difficult and traumatic to relocate a loved one from their home to hospice. NewAldaya Lifescapes provides respite care in your home here in the Cedar Falls area, or at our site to relieve your burden, even if for a short period.
At NewAldaya Lifescapes, we treat your loved one with the same care and respect that you would. We prioritize their comfort as they near the end of their journey. To schedule a visit to our location and request information, contact us to speak with one of our attentive staff members. We’re here for you, as well as your nearest and dearest.