Does an ALS diagnosis have you considering your long-term care?

Various life events can cause Minnesota residents to consider their end-of-life wishes. In some cases, a loved one may have passed and caused surviving family members to consider their own mortality. In other instances, individuals could receive an unfavorable medical diagnosis and want to get their affairs in order before the situation worsens.

For you, ALS may have been the driving factor behind a desire to consider your long-term care and end-of-life wishes. You may have anticipated amyotrophic lateral sclerosis affecting your life because a parent or other close relative has the condition, or the diagnosis may have come completely out of the blue.

Did your situation start like this?

For many people who have ALS, the symptoms can start out relatively mild. You may have even brushed off any of the following signs as nothing serious at first:

  • Leg, feet or ankle weakness
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Muscle cramps
  • Difficulty keeping good posture
  • Trouble holding your head up
  • Slurred speech
  • Tripping or falling
  • Difficulty walking
  • Problems doing everyday activities
  • Twitching in your arms, shoulders or even your tongue

ALS involves the breakdown of nerve cells and results in a weakening of your muscles. Due to the seriousness of this condition and the lack of a cure, facing this diagnosis typically means that individuals will face a number of potential complications, including eating problems, breathing problems, dementia and speaking problems. As you likely know, as ALS progresses, it can present a need for continual care.

How can you plan ahead?

You certainly want to discuss your condition, treatment, care and other medical needs with your doctor. Having this information may allow you to better prepare for situations that could arise as your condition progressively becomes worse.

It is also wise to look into your estate planning options. Creating this plan could allow you to appoint a power of attorney agent to make important decisions on your behalf if you lose the ability to do so for yourself. You can also indicate your wishes for long-term care, such as if you would like to receive in-home care or go into a specific care facility. You could also utilize your plan to make financial arrangements to pay for such care.

Of course, you could also use your estate plan to indicate how you would like your final affairs handled after your passing. Certainly, facing one’s own mortality can be heart-wrenching, but having these plans in place could bring you some peace of mind.