Long term care will be needed at some point by nearly 70% of Americans turning 65. This makes sense, however, knowing how many people can benefit from long term care. In fact, having some assistance, particularly in the patient’s own home, can avoid aggravating existing medical conditions or causing new medical conditions. Rather than viewing long term care negatively, long term care can be viewed as a way for patients to maintain their quality of life.
Long term home care, in particular, can help patients recovering from surgery or injury as well as patients with ongoing or chronic medical conditions, such as Alzheimers disease, dementia, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and ALS. While this article focuses on ALS nursing care in the home, similar factors may be used in considering a Parkinson’s care plan or multiple sclerosis care plan, as well as planning dementia home care or Alzheimers home care.
The effects of illnesses can change over time. Generally, home care plans that allow for flexibility rather than requiring a long term commitment can accommodate these changes in effects. With ALS, for example, there can be long periods in which there is little or no loss in function. Some patients even experience recovery of lost functions. On the other hand, ALS is progressive and eventually leads to severe impairment of a person’s ability to walk, talk, swallow, and breathe. As ALS progresses, the level of care may also progress, eventually requiring ASL nursing care.
The first symptoms of ALS are usually fatigue and muscle weakness. At this point, the only home care needed may be a caregiver who can take over some physical activities that have become too tiring or too strenuous for the person. Muscle weakness may also make everyday activities like bathing, using the toilet, cooking, and cleaning difficult. Moreover, getting around, whether in the home or while running errands and shopping, becomes more difficult as mobility becomes impaired and falls become more likely. The person may need help preparing and eating meals. As communication becomes more difficult, a caregiver may be required to assist communicating. As ALS progresses, it affects the muscles responsible for breathing and swallowing. ALS nursing care may be required to manage and administer medications that are prescribed to treat some of the symptoms of ALS that may make breathing and swallowing more difficult. ALS nursing care may also be required to coordinate respiratory, speech, and physical therapists as well as implement their recommendations and treatments.
Later on, ALS will affect more aspects of the person’s life. ALS nursing care may include maintaining a tracheostomy tube and feeding tube when the person is no longer able to breathe and swallow without assistance. As the person needs more assistive technology, ALS nursing care may include helping the person with respiratory equipment, mobility equipment, transfer equipment, and communication devices.
People with ALS have a range of needs. ALS nursing care is flexible enough to meet these needs as they arise during the course of the ALS progression.