Tips for Caring for Someone With ALS
Tips for Caring for Someone With ALS, Caring for a family member, spouse, or friend who has been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) can be challenging and overwhelming, as you will need to help them handle their everyday tasks, including grocery shopping, housekeeping, and personal care. Read on for five tips to help you navigate the caregiving process.
1. Learn about ALS
The first step to better care for someone with ALS is to empower yourself with as much information about the disease. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a condition that affects the spinal cord and brain’s nerve cells. The nerve cells control movement in the muscle, affecting how one walks and speaks. ALS is a progressive condition, meaning it worsens with time.
By learning more about the disease, you will know the symptoms to expect, including muscle spasms and twitching, excessive drooling, pain, slurred speech, difficulty in walking, and breathing difficulties. This helps you prepare yourself for the changes, enabling you to develop a smooth caregiving journey.
2. Ask for help
Taking care of someone with ALS is a daunting endeavor. You have to clean, shop, cook, feed, bathe, and dress them. As the disease progresses, you will also have to manage mobility aids, breathing devices, and feeding machines. For these reasons, you should not hesitate to request help from friends and relatives. Be sure to seek support from your loved one’s health care team, including neurologists, nutritionists, swallow and speech therapists, respiratory therapists, and physical therapists. You could also consider enrolling them in a care center such as the Husky Senior Care as the disease progresses to ensure your loved one receives the specialized care they need.
3. Take care of yourself
Do not be so wrapped up in providing the best care for your loved one that you neglect yourself. Your physical, social, and emotional needs are essential too. Be sure to engage in activities you love, including walking, listening to music, watching movies, shopping, or getting massages. Taking care of your needs enhances your capacity to provide the best assistance to your loved one.
4. Empathize with your loved one
Receiving an ALS diagnosis is devastating for your loved one. They may react to the news with anger, shock, or confusion, and it may take some time before they accept their condition. You should put yourself in the loved one’s shoes and be there for them. Be sure to let them know that you are available to talk and listen. You should also encourage them to accept the condition and work together to devise the best support strategy.
5. Watch for signs and symptoms of depression
Taking care of someone with ALS can trigger a range of emotions. You may experience anger, discomfort, worry, fear, frustration, and guilt. This, combined with the demands of your job, makes you vulnerable to depression, which could compromise the quality of your life. For this reason, you should look out for the early symptoms of depression and consult a therapist. The following are the common signs of depression:
- Changes in appetite
- Loss of interest in hobbies and activities that brought you pleasure
- Difficulties concentrating
- Sleeping difficulties
- Feeling hopeless, worthless, empty, and sad
Taking care of a loved one with ALS is challenging as it is rewarding. Implement the above strategies to make your caregiving journey less stressful.