Do you have a loved one who is over 60 years old? Are you in that group? This is the age group that is at risk for what’s called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. It also goes by the name of Lou Gehrig’s Disease. It affects thousands of Americans every year. Although those who are usually impacted by Lou Gehrig’s disease are between the ages of 40 and 70, those who are over 60 have the highest risk. If you or someone you know is at risk for developing this disease, it’s helpful to know a little more about ALS.
What Exactly is ALS?
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a degenerative disease. When people have ALS, it means that their motor neurons are deteriorating. These neurons are supposed to send messages to the muscles to initiate movement. But, when they are damaged, they can’t send those messages. This means that the muscles can no longer operate properly. Muscle movement control is lost and the muscles become weaker. This doesn’t bother a person’s cognitive skills or mental processes. But it does limit physical abilities.
What are Some Signs and Symptoms of ALS?
Some common symptoms of Lou Gehrig’s Disease include:
- Problems with swallowing
- Twitching muscles
- Muscle cramps
- Muscle stiffness
- Slurred speech
- Weakness or fatigue
- Shortness of breath
- Breathing problems
Symptoms of ALS vary, and sometimes they worsen as the condition progresses. It’s important to speak with a doctor if you see any of these signs or symptoms.
There are Different Kinds of Lou Gehrig’s Disease
There are a few different forms of ALS. Each of them are developed in slightly different ways and caused by different factors including:
- Familial ALS is a form that’s pretty rare. It’s a type of the disease that occurs in more than one people in one family.
- Primary Lateral Sclerosis, or PLS, is the rarest type of ALS. In this form, the upper motor neurons are impacted.
- PMA, or Progressive Muscular Atrophy, affects the lower motor neurons.
- Progressive Bulbar Palsy, also known as PBP, impacts about one quarter of the people who have ALS. This form of the disease begins with chewing, swallowing, and speaking issues.
Learning More About ALS: Risk Factors
Like we mentioned before, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is more common in older adults than in people under 40. Age has a lot to do with the development of ALS. Studies also show that, before the age of 65, there is a slightly higher risk for men than there is for women. But, after one turns 70, there’s no difference between men and women’s risk for being diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease. In very few cases, the development of ALS can be traced directly to genetics. But, other than in those instances, causes for Lou Gehrig’s are not widely known.
Caring For People Who Have ALS
Have you recently been diagnosed with ALS? Or, do you have an older loved one who has the disease? If so, you may need someone to help take care of your needs or the needs of your loved one. Here at Florida First Senior Care, we offer referrals for in-home assistance.
Degenerative diseases like ALS can make everyday activities difficult for people to achieve. Sometimes, tasks like cooking meals or driving can’t be done because of the muscle damage and weakening people experience. Physical limitations can make it hard to get things done around the house. That’s where Florida First comes in.
Our caregiver referral service pairs patients with professional caregivers. You or your loved one can receive help from people who understand your needs. If you’re looking for a little assistance, contact Florida First Senior Home Care today.