In-Home Care Services for Seniors with ALS
What do in-home caregivers need to know about ALS in order to provide quality services for seniors who have this neurological disease? ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. While the disease can develop at any age, ALS commonly occurs between the ages of 55 and 75. Men are slightly more likely to develop ALS than women, and male veterans are one of the highest demographics for developing ALS. This is why being informed about ALS is not just important for senior care, but for providing quality care for senior veterans as well.
Seniors who have ALS experience the neurological effects of the disease throughout the body. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. This is the degenerative process of ALS.
Understanding the Symptoms of ALS
The first step to providing in-home care services to seniors with ALS is understanding the symptoms. ALS can be difficult to diagnose, which means seniors may have been struggling with the disease long before receiving a diagnosis. Receiving proper care is important for helping people with ALS to maintain a positive quality of life. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may even become totally paralyzed.
Initial symptoms of ALS include reduced motor skills (such as grasping a mug or lifting a pen), tripping often, dropping things, abnormal and slurred speech, abnormal fatigue of the arms and legs, muscle spasms, cramping and twitching, and uncontrollable periods of laughing or crying.
Later stage symptoms affect numerous functions of the body. For example, skin problems, bladder and incontinence issues, behavioral changes, insomnia, breathing difficulties, and constipation.
The unfortunate reality of ALS is that there is currently no cure.
Creating a Care Plan for Seniors with ALS
If you’re a family member or in-home caregiver providing care for someone who has ALS, it is important to create an integrated care plan that addresses all of the effects of ALS. A personalized care plan for a senior with ALS will include:
Scheduled toileting and protective garments. This helps in reducing incontinence issues.
Medication reminders and continued observance for any medication side effects.
Healthy sleep patterns to prevent or mitigate insomnia.
Rest, stretching, ROM, and massage to help with muscle cramping and pain.
Proper hygiene routine in order to prevent skin issues such as fungal or yeast infections.
Strategies to prevent bedsores from developing. For example, repositioning, absorbent clothing, and pressure-reducing cushions.
Emergency alert services and home automation systems
Since each individual is unique, a care plan for seniors with ALS will not be a “one size fits all” kind of plan. It is important to work with high quality, expertly trained caregivers who understand how to incorporate the individualized needs of their clients into their care plans.
Discover Quality In-Home Care Services for ALS
Alegre Home Care is a reputable in-home care agency serving seniors and people with disabilities in Northern California for over 25 years. All in-home caregivers at Alegre Home Care are thoroughly screened and trained in a variety of caregiving specialties. In-home caregivers receive continual education and training and work with the agency to create the best care plans for each individual receiving care.
If you or a loved one has ALS and is interested in the assistance of an in-home caregiver, please contact Alegre Home Care for a FREE consultation.