What Is ALS?
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, ALS, is classified as a progressive neurodegenerative disease that primarily affects the nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain. As the motor neurons that stretch from the spinal cord to the brain are degenerated, the ability for the brain to control motor function is gradually lost. Because of this, people affected by ALS can lose the ability to move, speak, eat, and even breathe.
The two forms of ALS are familial and sporadic. Sporadic is the most common type in the United States and accounts for nearly 95 percent of all reported cases. As the name suggests, it can impact anyone sporadically. Familial ALS, on the other hand, accounts for around 5 to 10 percent of diagnosed cases, and is inherited from a parent with the corresponding gene mutation.
Disease management is important when it comes to caring for individuals suffering from ALS, and being able to implement ALS nursing care plans efficiently, can make a world of difference. For those seeking at home care, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Caring for a loved one who has ALS is no easy task, and it is important for you to have the right support. Physical demands such as feeding, bathing, dressing, and using the bathroom, can easily overwhelm an individual; and this is on top of managing the household, cleaning, cooking, doing laundry, and scheduling appointments with doctors. All of this can be hard for a single person to handle on their own, which makes additional support all the more important for both you and your loved one.
ALS Nursing Care Team
In order to implement an effective ALS care plan, you need to collaborate with professionals. Preferably, your care team should include:
- A neurologist.
- A nutritionist.
- A speech and swallow therapist.
- A respiratory therapist.
- A professional at-home caregiver.
These professionals will be able to make a tangible impact in your loved one’s quality of life, and an at-home caregiver can help take a bit of the weight off of your shoulders, while making sure no care is sacrificed. Additionally, they will also help you develop an ALS nursing care plan that works best for you.
Devices For Assistance
Because muscle weakness is the leading symptom of ALS, devices such as bathtub lifts, wheelchairs, and special feeding tools, can help assist with everyday tasks, making it easier for the affected individual perform tasks with assistance.
Other devices can be specially designed mattresses to prevent skin damage or joint pain, and speaking aids that function by hand or eye movement to help make communication easier. Discussing devices with you care team can help you understand which would be most helpful, as well as what your loved one would benefit from the most.
To be an effective caregiver, you need to make sure your body and mind are taken care of so that you can better care for your loved one. Respite care offers a break for caregivers, and can be as short as a couple of hours, or as long as a couple weeks. This gives you the freedom to take an afternoon off, or take a longer vacation, should you need or want time away.
In respite care, trained professionals will ensure all ALS nursing care needs are met, and the service can be either in your own home, or at a long-term facility. It’s important to note that respite care can be critical to maintaining a caregivers well meaning. While facilities have rotating staff, caring for someone on your own can wear you down over time. Taking time for you isn’t a selfish notion, it goes a long way towards making sure you can continue to provide the best care for your loved one.