Have You Heard These Myths About ALS?

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a condition which affects the way that nerves and muscles function. Approximately 20,000 people in the United States have ALS, but despite its prevalence, it’s not a disease people are very familiar with. In fact, there are a number of myths surrounding the disease. If you have an aging family member with ALS, here are some myths and truths you should know.

Elderly Care in Lauderhill FL: ALS Myths

Elderly Care in Lauderhill FL: ALS Myths

Myth: ALS guarantees a short life span.

Truth: While most people with ALS only live between two and five years after diagnosis, some people live far beyond that. In fact, in excess of 50 percent of people diagnosed with ALS live more than three years, and some live for decades. For example, famous scientist Stephen Hawking was diagnosed when he was 21, and is now in his 70s.

Myth: ALS only affects the body.

Truth: Doctors once thought that ALS only affected the body, but the truth is that it can affect cognition as well. Experts say that 20 to 30 percent of people diagnosed with ALS will experience some cognitive problems. Up to 10 percent will develop severe dementia.

Myth: ALS is a hereditary disease.

Truth: Only about 10 percent of ALS cases happen within families. That means 90 percent of people with ALS do not have a family history of the disease. These non-familial cases are called sporadic. The family members of people with sporadic ALS are at only a slightly higher risk for ALS than the rest of the population.

Myth: ALS comes on suddenly.

Truth: ALS actually comes on gradually. Many times, a person with ALS will complain of weakness in an arm or leg. They may mistake the symptom as being carpal tunnel syndrome. In fact, ALS is sometimes misdiagnosed as carpal tunnel or a pinched nerve. ALS progresses from these minor symptoms over time to include loss of muscle control. Most people with ALS ultimately die from respiratory problems.

Myth: Nothing can be done to help someone with ALS.

Truth: There is a lot that can be done to make the lives of people with ALS better. Hiring an elderly care provider is one way you can help a family member with the disease to continue to enjoy living in their home. An elderly care provider can help a person with ALS to dress, bathe, and move from room to room. Elderly care providers can also cook, do light housework, and assist with pet care. In addition, having an elderly care provider can allow a person with ALS to remain engaged in activities outside the home since the elderly care provider can accompany them to stores, on outings, and to social gatherings.

If you or an aging loved one are considering elderly care in Lauderhill, FL, please call the caring staff at Activa Home Health Care at (561) 819-4112.  Serving Delray Beach, Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Wellington, Jupiter, West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Lauderhill, Coral Springs, Pompano Beach and surrounding communities.