How Does ALS Progress?

A diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s diseaseis a difficult one to receive and understand, both for an older adult and for their family caregivers. One of the greatest uncertainties that both may have is what to expect in the future. While you may be aware that the disease eventually results in a complete dependency on others, you may be uncertain of what happens in between the diagnosis and then. ALS is a disease that progresses in stages. The stages of ALS are as follows. 


Early Stage

Elderly Care in Glenview, IL: ALS Progression

In the early stages of ALS, the older adult’s muscles will begin to weaken. At times, the older adult may experience stiff, tight muscles. There may also be spasticity and cramping. Muscles will begin to atrophy, which means they become smaller in size. The senior may have muscle twitches, too. The symptoms of ALS in the early stages may be confined to just one part of the body or be more widely spread.  


Some of the things the older adult may have to cope with are: 

  • Fatigue. 
  • Loss of balance. 
  • Slurred speech. 
  • Weakened hand grip. 
  • Tripping. 


Middle Stage 

During the middle stage, the symptoms of ALS worsen and affect more of the body. There may be paralysis in some muscles, but others may be only slightly affected or not affected at all. Muscle twitches may still occur.  


Problems your aging relative may be coping with during this time include: 

  • Rigid, painful joints caused by contracture. 
  • An inability to get back up from a fall on their own. 
  • Difficulty swallowing. 
  • Trouble breathing, especially when lying down. 


This is the stage in which the older adult may be unable to spend much time on their own. They will require an increased amount of help and will have to give up driving. 


Late Stage 

In the late stage, the older adult will be unable to move most of their body on their own due to paralysis. They will also have a much more difficult time breathing. They may be unable to eat and require a feeding tube.  


As the symptoms of ALS worsen, the older adult will become increasingly dependent on caregivers. Because of the increasing responsibility placed on caregivers, it is a good idea to enlist the assistance of elderly care. Elderly care providers can perform all of the non-medical tasks that a family caregiver can. An elderly care agency can help you to schedule providers to fill in gaps in the senior’s care schedule when family caregivers are at work or otherwise engaged, including during the overnight hours. 


If you or an aging loved one are considering Elderly Care in Glenview, IL, contact the caring staff atCompanion Services of Americatoday at(847) 943-3786. Our home care service area includes Northbrook, Highland Park, Deerfield, Glenview, Buffalo Grove, Evanston, Des Plaines, Skokie, Lake Forest, Wilmette and the surrounding areas. 




Jamie Shapiro