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Senior Care Observances: Als Awareness Month

Senior Care in Sudbury MA

Medication May is ALS Awareness Month. Also referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease after the beloved baseball player who brought awareness to the disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a disease of the neurological nervous system that extensively impacts physical functioning through muscle weakness, mobility issues, and other symptoms. This condition causes nerve cells to die, causing a gradual progression of the changes in functioning and body control. There is currently no cure for ALS and it will eventually cause death.

When you are on a senior care journey with an elderly parent it is critical that you are vigilant about your parent’s health and well-being so that you can detect subtle changes that may indicate the presence of a serious condition. Since ALS shares many symptoms with other conditions, including those of Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease, it is important that you pay close attention to any new or worsening symptoms that your parent develops. This will allow you to provide the most accurate information to their doctor so that they can get a diagnosis as soon as possible. The sooner that your parent gets an accurate diagnosis, the sooner that they can get on a course of management and treatment that will help to preserve their quality of life for as long as possible.

The signs and symptoms of ALS can vary from person to person. These symptoms generally begin very subtly and progress gradually, sometimes making it difficult to detect them. Some of these symptoms include:

  • New challenges with walking
  • Tripping
  • Mobility issues
  • Ankle weakness
  • Foot weakness
  • Leg weakness
  • Difficulty managing normal daily tasks
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Slurring of speech
  • Muscle cramps that cannot be attributed to other causes
  • Twitching in the arms
  • Twitching in the shoulders
  • Twitching or other involuntary movements of the tongue
  • Challenges holding head up
  • Difficulty maintaining posture
  • Changes in vocal tone
  • Changes in breathing

Though there is not a clear explanation as to why ALS develops, there are some risk factors that increase the chances that your loved one will develop the disease. These risk factors include:

  • Genetics. Family history of the disease is a factor in between 5 and 10 percent of cases of ALS. For those who develop the disease, children will have a 50 percent chance of developing it.
  • Age. The majority of people who develop ALS receive their diagnosis between the ages of 40 and 60.
  • Sex. Prior to the age of 65, more cases of ALS are diagnosed in men than in women. This difference, however, disappears completely in those older than 70.
  • Tobacco use. Those who smoke are at twice the risk of developing ALS as those who do not use tobacco. The risk increases with the number of years that the person smokes.
  • Exposure to lead. Frequent exposure to lead, such as in a work environment, increases the chance of developing ALS.
  • History in the military. Though there is not a clear explanation as to why, there seems to be a correlation between a history of service in the military and the risk of developing ALS. This may be caused by exposure to viruses, injuries, exertion, or exposure to certain environmental factors.

If you or an aging loved one are considering non-medical in-home care in Metrowest Boston, MA, call Griswold Home Care and speak to one of our caring staff members today. Call (781) 559-0073