There has been a lot of research done regarding Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Starting in 2014, people began raising money for this condition with the ice bucket challenge. When a person participated in this challenge, they would dump a bucket of ice over their head. After doing this task, they would nominate other people to do the challenge. There was over $115 million raised during the challenge and it was donated for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis research.
This disease can be devastating. There is a lot of information that family caregivers and elder care providers should know.
Age ALS Usually Begins
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also referred to as ALS, generally affects people between the age of 40 and 60. There are some symptoms that home health care professionals and family caregivers can look for in the elderly adult. Some of these symptoms include the following:
- “Foot Drop” which means trouble lifting up the foot or toes
- Difficulty swallowing
- Slurred speech
- Twitching in shoulders, arms, and tongue
Eventually, symptoms will become severe. This will make it more difficult for the person to chew their food, swallow, talk, and even breathe without assistance.
Progression of ALS
Research shows that, on average, people with the disease have a survival rate of 3 years. Approximately 20% of people survive for 5 years, 10% live for 10 years, and 5% live for about 20 years with the disease.
Elderly Adults and ALS
You should know that elderly adults generally go through 4 different stages when they have this disease. These stages include the following:
Beginning stage. During this stage, the disease isolates a single group of muscles. A person feels more tired than they normally would and their muscles seem to be weaker.
Middle stage. During this stage, people tend to get dry mouth and have problems with swallowing. Their muscles get stiff and contract, leaving them paralyzed. They experience emotional dysregulation, as well.
Late stage. At this point, all muscles become paralyzed. This includes the lungs, as well. The elderly adult who has this disease will often get headaches and feel dizzy. They will have trouble speaking and eating. Hospice is usually called to help the patient.
End stage. End of life care is discussed. The cardiac and respiratory systems begin failing. Home modifications are made for this patient, too.
If you are taking care of someone with ALS and have any questions about the disease, it is best to speak with their doctor for guidance. Having elder care services can greatly help out during the time that your elderly loved one has this condition.
Caring for Someone Who Has ALS
Some professionals who can help care for your elderly loved one include the following:
- Speech therapists
- Elder care providers
- Respiratory therapists
There are also many resources that can help when you are caring for a loved one with this condition.
It is important to contact your loved one’s physician if you feel they have ALS. Early diagnosis is key, so your elderly loved one can get the proper medical care.