Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS is a neurodegenerative disease that affects the spine and brain and how they control the muscles in the body. Most people develop ALS between the 40 and 70 years old, with most cases appearing in the elderly. Caring for an elderly adult with ALS can be an enormous challenge for family caregivers, especially if the senior has other health issues.
There are many factors that contribute to the type of care a family caregiver can provide for an aging relative with ALS. It helps to be familiar with the stages of this serious disease and the associated symptoms. This can help family caregivers focus on the type of care their aging loved ones need. Some seniors may take many years to go through the symptoms while others only take months. Regardless of the progress of this incurable disease, family caregivers have a lot to learn about properly caring for an elderly relative with ALS.
Early Stages of ALS in Seniors
The early stages of ALS include several symptoms that range from mild to more moderate. Symptoms include muscle weakness, clumsiness, slurring the words, problems with swallowing, fatigue, balance issues, muscle cramps and muscle spasms. The symptoms may be barely distinguishable at first and then advance more rapidly.
When it comes to care during the early to moderate stages of ALS, family caregivers need to build a support group of doctors, physical therapists, respiratory therapists and home care providers. The aging adult with ALS will need help with daily tasks, especially when it comes to self-care and home care. Family caregivers and home care providers can take on a lot of the assistive duties like bathing, dressing, grooming, meal preparation and laundry. Seniors may need to use walkers, canes and even wheelchairs as family caregivers look to adapt the home environment for ALS.
Late Stages of MLS
As the elderly adult’s range of motion diminishes with ALS, they will need round-the-clock care. The senior may lose the ability to swallow on their own, resulting in a feeding tube. At this point, most aging adults with ALS will need a wheelchair and they will be dealing with muscle paralysis in various parts of the body.
Family caregivers will need to enlist the support of home care providers more than ever, as elderly relatives will need help both day and night. Seniors can boost their quality of life with adaptive tools to help with eating, writing and communicating, plus transfer lift chairs, shower chairs and more. Aging adults with ALS will certainly need 24-hour help with bathing, toileting, dressing and many other daily tasks.
With ALS, there is no cure and the disease eventually make it impossible for aging adults to live without constant care. Family caregivers can make an enormous difference in the physical care and positive mental health of their aging loved ones with ALS.
If you or an aging loved one are considering Home Care in Indian Trail, NC, please call the professional staff at Caring at Heart today at (704) 379-7510. Serving Charlotte, Statesville, Ballantyne, Mooresville, Huntersville, Matthews, Concord, Gastonia, Pineville and Indian Trail.