If your loved one is living with ALS, it's important to make long-term care plans to extend their quality of life for as long as possible. At the onset of the disease, however, it can be difficult or scary to not know what that nursing care might look like, or even what kind of questions to ask potential service providers during a consultation. Using The ALS Association's samples of nursing care management, we've compiled a list of things that ALS nursing care plans might entail. Armed with this information, you'll be better informed to discuss your loved one's needs with service providers, as well as continuing to advocate for the care and comfort they deserve.
Physical Needs and Care
Branching through the most immediate areas of need, ALS nursing care plans involve managing your loved one's abilities to tend to their most basic functions. This can include monitoring bowel and bladder health, both of which can be slowed or weakened by the disease's progression. It can also help manage the degeneration of mobility through physical therapy, range-of-motion exercises, and the promotion and nurturing of continued activity. An ALS care plan can also include adaptive technologies such as eggshell mattress covers in order to help offset the potential for decubitus ulcers.
Nutritional Needs and Care
Ensuring that your loved one maintains adequate nutritional levels even as dysphasia, or difficulty swallowing, begins to set in is another critical part of ALS nursing care plans. By monitoring your loved one's weight and ensuring that food and fluid intakes remain at optimal levels, care providers can help extend your loved one's quality of life. As dysphasia progresses, your care provider can also help with strategies to help make sure that airways don't become blocked when eating, or integrating liquid supplements between meals to help ensure that caloric needs are met.
Communication Needs and Care
Altered clarity of speech, known as dysarthria, or total loss of speech can be a harrowing part of ALS' progression as a disease. Knowing this, your ALS nursing care plans will provide referrals to a speech pathologist in order to provide treatment or intervention before it's too late. Losing the ability to communicate with your loved one can be one of the more frightening aspects of the disease, but it's important to remember that there are a variety of alternative communication tools available so that your loved one can continue to communicate with you, as well as advocating for their own care and treatment.
Psychological Needs and Care
Adjusting to a degenerative illness can take a psychological toll on both patients and family members, and one of the unsung aspects of your ALS nursing care plan is having measures in place to make sure that these psychological needs are met. When everyone is afraid for the future, it's important to have a supportive environment where everyone involved can discuss their feelings about the situation and be heard. Having the ability to express grief in a supportive environment can enable families to move through this process while also ensuring that they're able to take appropriate steps to plan for the future.
The reality of your loved one's illness and the uncertainty it spells for the future can be a daunting thing to face. The information surrounding the creation of an ALS nursing care plan is overwhelming, and it can be difficult to know when or how to start. Whether you decide on home care or assisted living services, the choice is ultimately about what's best for your loved one and your family. Armed with the knowledge of the things an ALS care plan can provide, hopefully, it's easier for you to ask the important questions and get your loved one the help and care they need. If you want to set up a consultation and discuss options, give our office a call. We're here to help.