May brings us amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) awareness month. This designated month is designed to gain awareness and encourage funding and research for this currently incurable disease. Also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, named for the famous baseball player that came down with ALS and brought it to national attention when he delivered his farewell speech at Yankee stadium.
ALS destroys the nerve cells of the brain and spinal cord. These neurons are essential in transmitting information that helps control the muscles. The progressive destruction eventually affects a person’s ability to walk, speak, eat and even breathe. Stephen Hawking, the famous theoretical physicist, has brought attention to this disease by beating the odds. He was first diagnosed at the age of 21 and has lived well past the five years he was given. He is currently 75.
The Elderly and ALS
According to an abstract published in Neurology, the chances of coming down with this disease increase until the age of 80. The elderly are more difficult to diagnose, possibly due to other existing aliments. Their prognosis is poorer than those that develop this disease before the age of 75.
Your parent will eventually need support with the daily activities of living. It’s also important to schedule time for social engagement as those with this disease can easily become increasingly isolated. Consider putting together a schedule with all the daily tasks and support that are required. In addition, it will be increasingly important to insure a safe home environment. This can best be accomplished by eliminating any tripping or slipping hazards such as throw rugs, wires and cords or furniture that is obstructing commonly used pathways, and clutter.
Senior Care Provider
Caring for a loved one with ALS can bring incredible gifts and significant challenges. Don’t forget to care for yourself as you care for your parent. The ALS Association has a Care Connection program which gives tips on how to find support from family, friends and community members. The Caregiver Action network and the Family Caregiver Alliance both provide programs, education, resources and support for family caregivers. Consider obtaining the services of a senior care provider as well. These professionals know the challenges your parent faces and can assist them with the daily activities of living as well as provide the companionship that is so important to someone facing this diagnosis.
If you are considering hiring senior care in Shelby, Ohio, call the caring staff at Central Star Home Health at (419) 610-2161. Providing services for families in Mansfield, Lexington, Bellville, Mt. Gilead, Loudonville, Crestline, Galion, Shelby, Ashland, Wooster, and the surrounding areas.