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How To Care For Someone Suffering From ALS

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ALS is a devastating diagnosis that will mean a real change in the life of the patient diagnosed with it and their family. Understanding the best way to support and care for someone with ALS is a challenge, but there are steps that you can put in place to make the journey a little smoother and as calm and positive as possible for the patient. We have put together some important tips to help you care for someone who has ALS.

If you are looking for more advice, https://www.mybiosource.com/als_amyotrophic_lateral_sclerosis is a great resource for learning more about the condition.

What Is ALS?

ALS, also amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that primarily impacts the effects of nerve cells present in the spinal cord and brain. The cause of this disease is unknown, although research suggests that genetics may play a role. It is also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease after baseball player Lou Gehrig died from the condition in 1941.

The first symptoms of ALS usually appear between 40-60 years old, although they can occur at any age. In most cases, people develop weakness in one side of their body before losing strength throughout both sides of their body. This leads to difficulty walking, speaking, swallowing, breathing, and eventually death.

The average time from onset of symptoms until death is three to five years. However, the course of the disease varies greatly among patients. Some people live for many years while others die within months.

Who Gets ALS?

ALS is not a common illness. There are about 30,000 new cases of ALS each year in the United States, which means that approximately one person out of every 100,000 Americans develops the disease. Men are more likely than women to get ALS, and Caucasians are more likely to be affected by the disease than African Americans.

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There is no cure for ALS, but there are treatments available to slow down its progression. These include physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and nutritional counseling. There is also ongoing research into finding a treatment that could stop the progression of the disease.

Symptoms Of ALS

The first symptom of ALS is usually muscle twitching or stiffness in one arm or leg. As the disease progresses, other muscles become involved, including those used for breathing and swallowing. Eventually, all voluntary muscles lose control. Patients often experience difficulties with movement, balance, coordination, and speech. They may also have trouble eating and sleeping.

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Patients may also experience problems with vision, hearing, bowel and bladder function, and sexual function. Most people with ALS lose the ability to walk and require assistance to move around. Those with bulbar involvement (involving nerves that connect the brain to the throat, tongue, and diaphragm) may need feeding tubes to keep them alive.

How Can You Support Someone With ALS?

Supporting someone with ALS requires patience, understanding, and compassion. Here are some things you can do to help:

Be Patient

It is normal to feel anxious when your loved one has been diagnosed with ALS. But remember that the disease is unpredictable and that the progress of the disease varies widely. Don’t expect too much too soon. Instead, focus on what you can do now to make life easier for your loved one.

Understand Your Loved One’s Needs

People with ALS will need extra care and attention because they cannot speak for themselves. Make sure you understand how best to communicate with your loved one so that they know exactly what you want and needs. This will be different for every patient, depending on their level of cognitive impairment, but taking the time can help you aid your loved one more fully.

Offer Help When Needed

If your loved one is having trouble moving around, offer them support. If your loved one is unable to eat or drink, give them food and water through a straw or another method recommended by their healthcare professional. It is also important to balance offering help with maintaining the dignity and privacy of your loved one.

Provide Comfort

Be sensitive to your loved one’s emotional state. Some patients find it helpful to talk about their feelings, while others prefer to remain silent. Whatever works best for your loved one will differ from person to person, so try to provide comfort as needed in a way that works for your situation and the preferences of your loved one.

Encourage Exercise If Possible

Encouraging exercise is an excellent way to improve strength and mobility – this will not be possible for all patients. Physical therapists can teach you how to perform exercises safely at home.

Final Thoughts

The journey ahead for your loved one with ALS is long and uncertain. However, there are many ways to support your loved one during this difficult time. By being supportive and compassionate, you can ease the burden of caring for someone who has ALS while ensuring that you are doing the best for both of you.

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