A number of years ago, the ice bucket challenge brought a great deal of focus and significant donations to the fight against ALS — Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease. A progressive, neuromuscular disease that attacks nerve cells and pathways in the brain and spinal cord, more than 20,000 Americans are living with ALS and up to 6,000 people in the United States are diagnosed each year.
To learn more about the risk factors, symptoms, treatment options and ways that the home care team at Visiting Care Giving Services can help, we have compiled this helpful information for families who are facing a recent ALS diagnosis in a loved one.
Risk Factors for ALS
While a vast majority of ALS cases occur for no known reason, research suggests that military veterans are between 1.5 to 2 times more likely to develop ALS than the general population. Approximately 5 – 10% of cases diagnosed are familial, where an individual has inherited the disease from his or her parent(s). Environmental factors may also be at play, and researchers continue to study the impact of exposure to toxins, physical trauma and even diet.
Frequently overlooked or even misdiagnosed, ALS symptoms appear very gradually and may not be noticed at early onset. Those diagnosed with ALS may feel clumsy and struggle with fine-motor skills such as writing or buttoning a shirt. Other early symptoms may include:
When ALS symptoms are first noticed in speech or swallowing, physicians refer to this as bulbar onset ALS. When symptoms are first noticed in the arms or legs, it is referred to as limb onset ALS.
Treatment Options & Supportive Care for ALS
While there is no cure for ALS, there are several treatment and supportive care options available that can help manage and relieve symptoms, and make living with the disease easier. A few of these include:
An ALS diagnosis brings many questions about what to expect during the course of the disease, as well as concerns about how to provide the care needed to help a loved one remain in the comfort and familiarity of home. Visiting Care Giving Services, providers of top-rated St. Charles elder care and home care in the nearby communities, is here to provide the support families need to navigate an ALS diagnosis with a team of highly-skilled, professional caregivers. Reach out to us today at (636) 493-9058 to learn more about the home care St. Charles, MO, families trust and to schedule a complimentary in-home consultation. See our Service Area page for a full listing of the communities we serve.