Around this time last year, ALS (Amyotrophic Laterals Sclerosis) took over social media headlines due to the viral fundraiser for the disease, The Ice Bucket Challenge. Posts and timelines were filled with videos of ice buckets being dumped on friends, family and celebrities in support of individuals diagnosed with this disease. ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. Throughout the course of the disease, wasting and atrophy occurs in all voluntary muscles including those that are used for swallowing and respiration. Symptoms such as tripping, clumsiness, muscle cramps, twitching and ultimately, paralysis occur as well.
The most common cause of death in ALS patients is respiratory failure. The average life expectancy for someone after diagnosis is between two to five years, however, because this disease process can be slow and unpredictable 10% of people live more than 10 years, according to the Journal of Hospice and Palliative Nursing. As the muscles decline, it can become increasingly difficult for someone to care for an individual faced with this disease. Hospice care is a good option to support caregivers looking after someone in the home. If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with ALS and have become wheelchair or bed-bound, require more assistance with daily living skills, choose to forgo assistance of a feeding tube, or do not want to be placed on a ventilator for breathing-you may qualify for hospice services.
Pain management, symptom control, and the oversight from the hospice professionals can help you remain at home. The hospice team will coordinate and plan one’s care based on their individual needs. Hospice care is appropriate for an ALS patient diagnosed with six months or less to live if the disease continues its natural progression. For more information on CompassionCare or hospice, call us today at 702-636-0200.