Helping a loved one diagnosed with muscle disease such as ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) remain as independent as possible is one of the greatest gifts you can give as a caregiver. As the disease progresses and loss of function begins to occur, it is easy to fall into the trap of doing everything possible for the person. However, although muscle disease may rob someone of typical movement, it does not rob them of their spirit. A family caregiver can help rather than hinder independence by following these tips:
- Be patient. Independence for a person with muscle disease can be slow and painstaking at times. Sometimes it seems faster and easier for caregivers to do it themselves.
- Be collaborative. Remember that people with muscle disease are capable adults even if they can’t communicate clearly. Through whatever means possible, discuss choices, make joint decisions and defer to the person’s wishes in decisions regarding their medical care.
- Ask if the person wants help before helping. Don’t take over tasks that still can be performed if the person is given adaptive devices and time.
- Let the person use your hands. When a person with muscle disease needs help with something, it can be very frustrating to have a helper take over the task and do it his or her way. He/she doesn’t need a caregiver’s brain to plan things, just a pair of willing hands.
- Obtain adaptive devices as needed so he or she can continue to use the computer for entertainment and social interaction as well as for household chores such as paying bills, tracking down information, hiring services, and grocery shopping.
- Use adaptive devices and new strategies to perform tasks. For example, rearrange household objects or furniture and change the way a task is done (i.e., sliding something rather than carrying it). Keep in mind that using an adaptive device such as a wheelchair is a move toward independence rather than away from it.
If you are seeking assistance in caring for a loved one with a muscle disease diagnosis, Live Free Home Health Care can help. Visit us at www.livefreehomehealthcare.com or call us at 603-217-0149 for a free in-home assessment. Are you wondering if it’s time to seek care for your loved one? Click here to review the warning signs.
For more information on ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) visit the ALS Association website by clicking here.