How Assisted Living Can Support Those with Huntington’s and ALS
Mike McClernonApr 19th, 2021
Living with Chronic Illness within an Assisted Living Community
When researching Assisted Living and Memory Care Communities, you will often find a particular focus put on Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. While Alzheimer’s disease is far more common than some of the other degenerative diseases, conditions like Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, and ALS all have symptoms and care needs that parallel Alzheimer’s.
Even though Assisted Living and Dementia Care Communities may not aim attention at these conditions, they are all fully equipped and qualified to manage symptoms and challenges associated with these diseases, as well.
Assisted Living Locators of Long Island is a full-service Senior Care Placement Advisor, guiding Long Island families through the process of transitioning into Senior Living. We’re looking at two conditions that require the same degree of care and attention that Alzheimer’s disease does and how Assisted Living is set to handle them.
Overview of Huntington’s Disease
Huntington’s disease is a rare degenerative disease that causes the progressive breakdown of nerve cells in the brain. It is a genetic condition, usually appearing in adults during their thirties or forties, and manifests through complications with movement, cognitive functioning, and behavior.
Movement: Movement impairments typically associated with Huntington’s include involuntary jerking or writhing (also known as chorea), slow reaction time, abnormal eye movement, and trouble with balance and walking.
Cognition: Common cognitive symptoms include difficulty processing information, lack of impulse control, inability to multitask, and absence of self-awareness.
Behavioral: Huntington’s disease can also cause behavioral disorders such as anxiety and depression, social withdrawal, insomnia, and paranoia.
Unfortunately, Huntington’s is a progressive disease with no known cure, so symptoms will worsen over time. Like many degenerative conditions, Huntington’s can be separated into stages characterized by the individual’s abilities, symptoms, and independence levels. While certain medications can lessen symptoms, eventually, individuals with Huntington’s will enter the late-stage and require full-time care.
Overview of ALS
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, is another degenerative disorder that affects the nerve cells. When these cells die, individuals with ALS will lose the ability to initiate and control muscle movement, eventually causing them to be unable to move, eat, or breathe independently.
While ALS is known to largely affect muscle movement and the body, around 50% of individuals with ALS will also experience mental symptoms, including lack of judgment and empathy, loss of basic hygiene, inability to concentrate or remember, and increased aggression.
Unlike Huntington’s, only 10% of all ALS diagnoses are caused by an inherited mutated gene. Unfortunately, experts are unaware of the exact cause of the other 90% of cases, although some research states that being in the military or playing contact sports are risk factors.
Activities of Daily Living
Since both Huntington’s disease and ALS affect movement, it can become increasingly challenging for individuals to complete basic daily tasks as the disease progresses. Known as Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), these tasks include simple functions like bathing, dressing, eating, and walking.
In the early stages of both conditions, individuals may be able to live independently and succeed with moderate assistance and support. However, as the diseases progress, individuals will require round-the-clock attention. Typically, family members cannot manage the complex needs associated with Huntington’s and ALS and will usually opt for professional assistance or a Senior Care Community.
How Assisted Living Can Help
Most Assisted Living and Memory Care Communities can fully manage care for those with Huntington’s and ALS. Care staff are always well-trained in these conditions’ unique challenges and can deliver person-focused care that answers each resident’s individual needs.
Assisted Living and Memory Care Communities can provide a pleasant and engaging environment for individuals with early-to-mid stage Huntington’s and ALS. Respectful support is provided with ADLs, daily meals are supplied, and socialization is encouraged through stimulating activities. In addition, the staff at Assisted Living and Memory Care Communities usually have specialized training to manage the mild cognitive impairment associated with these conditions.
Having a family member with Huntington’s or ALS is a heartbreaking experience that requires extensive compassion, patience, and planning. Assisted Living Locators of Long Island is dedicated to helping families find the best care option available for the unique needs of their loved ones with one of these degenerative conditions. We work hard to find the right Assisted Living and Memory Care Community that will welcome your family member with open arms and give them the life they deserve.
If you have a loved one with Huntington’s, ALS, Alzheimer’s disease, don’t wait to find care. Contact Assisted Living Locators of Long Island and learn how our free Senior Care services can help you.