Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Southern California

 

 Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, often referred to as ALS or "Lou Gehrig's Disease," is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost.

Early symptoms of ALS often include increasing muscle weakness, especially involving the arms and legs, cramps, tight and stiff muscles (spasticity) slurred speech, and difficulty chewing. The parts of the body showing early symptoms of the disease depend on which muscles in the body are affected. Regardless of the part of the body first affected by ALS, muscle weakness and atrophy spread to other parts of the body as the disease progresses. Individuals may develop problems with moving, swallowing (dysphagia), and speaking or forming words (dysarthria). With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed. And although the disease usually does not impair a person’s mind or intelligence, several recent studies suggest that some persons with ALS may have depression or alterations in cognitive functions involving decision-making and memory, especially as the disease progresses.

Usually occurring in the later stages of ALS, difficulty swallowing and chewing impair the person’s ability to eat normally and increase the risk of choking, therefore, many ALS patients are restricted to pureed diets and some require a feeding tube to assist in nutritional care. Many late stage ALS patients who become paralyzed require around-the-clock care. Almost all assisted living communities in the area cannot and will not care for a senior who requires such a high level of care, including those requiring a pureed diet. But, The Kensington is different. We are licensed as an Enhanced Assisted Living Residence. This license allows us to take care of folks with no care needs to those who have very high needs. We can and do take care of seniors who require a pureed diet, wheelchair-bound, and much more. We can successfully address the needs of seniors with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.

 

The Kensington has partnered with Genesis Rehab Services to provide a customized in-house program of physical, occupational and speech therapy, to help maintain muscle strength and optimize functioning for persons with ALS. Our team of therapists can enhance an individual’s independence and safety throughout the course of ALS. Our physical therapists can establish exercises and stretching techniques that provide needed benefits without overworking the muscles. They can also suggest devices such as walkers and wheelchairs that help individuals conserve energy and remain mobile. Occupational therapists can provide adaptive techniques and suggest equipment to assist residents with maintaining their level of independence during daily activities such as bathing, dressing and eating. Individuals with ALS who have difficulty swallowing or speaking may benefit from working with a speech therapist. Speech therapists can teach oral muscle strengthening and functioning techniques which are required for helping an individual with ALS speak clearly and swallow safely. These health professionals can also recommend communication devices that allow individuals to communicate with others when they can no longer speak.

The ALS Association has been found that gentle, low-impact aerobic exercise such as walking can strengthen unaffected muscles, improve cardiovascular health, and help ALS patients fight fatigue and depression. Range of motion and stretching exercises can help prevent painful spasticity and contractures of the muscles. The Kensington along with Genesis provides our residents with free on-site wellness programs designed to fit all cognitive and fitness levels, including those with ALS. Through the Vitality program by Genesis, daily stretching, strengthening and other exercises, help to relieve spasticity, increase overall strength and mobility, and help alleviate some symptoms of ALS. The Vitality program by Genesis helps our residents achieve maximum physical, social and emotional independence. This wellness program is conducted up to 5 days per week depending on the need of the resident.

Caregiver Burnout

If you’re the primary caregiver for an individual with MS, “caregiver burnout” is a very real—and very common—problem. Caregiver burnout is a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion that occurs when someone is responsible for the long-term care of another person 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

 

Caregivers often experience symptoms of fatigue, anxiety, stress and depression. They feel guilty when they take time out for themselves—or neglect their own physical and emotional needs altogether.


At The Kensington, we believe that caregivers shouldn’t have to shoulder the burden alone—we’re here to help and we are dedicated to the long-term care of people with MS, thus allowing the caregiver to go back to playing the role of daughter/son or well-spouse.

 

Please CLICK HERE to Contact Us or call us at 626-355-5700 to learn more about how we can assist you.