5 Signs Your Parent May Have ALS
ALS stands for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. It’s a neurodegenerative disease that kills nerve cells, affecting the person’s ability to control muscle movement. The disease has no cure. However, when it is diagnosed early, it gives doctors a chance to offer treatments that can keep muscles working longer. It can be a difficult disease to diagnose because some of the symptoms mimic those of other diseases. Knowing what to look for can ensure your elderly parent gets treatment as early on in the disease as possible. Below are 5 signs that your parent could have ALS.
#1: Changes in Hand Coordination
One of the early signs of ALS is hands becoming clumsy and weak. Your parent may drop things more often than they once did. Perhaps you’ll notice their coffee cup slipping from their hand and crashing to the floor. They may also have trouble manipulating small objects that never gave them trouble before. For example, if your mom sews, she might not be able to put pins in the fabric anymore.
#2: Speech Changes and Swallowing Problems
Your parent’s speech may change because of weakened muscles in the tongue and throat. Speech may be slurred. Changes to these muscles can also make swallowing difficult, so you might notice them avoiding certain foods, struggling to swallow, or choking frequently.
When leg muscles start to get weak, your parent will start to have trouble picking their feet up. This may cause a toe to drag, which makes them trip seemingly over nothing. They might even fall.
#4: Muscle Cramps
Though most people don’t associate pain with ALS, it can actually cause painful muscle cramps. In the early stages, cramps typically occur in tongue, shoulders, and arms. They might also experience muscle twitches.
#5: Bad Posture
Loss of muscle tone in the back and torso can make it hard to sit or stand up straight. They could also have problems holding their head up.
If you're aging relative has ALS, elder care can assist with their care. During the early stages, an elder care provider can allow them to remain as independent as possible, but step in to help when they need it. As the disease worsens, the elder care provider can do more, such as cooking meals and cleaning the house. In addition, an elder care provider can help with personal care, such as transferring the senior to and from their wheelchair, dressing, bathing, and using the toilet.