ALS: Communication

Be Patient: Helpful Advice from Our In-Home Care Experts

ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) does not affect the senses (sight, smell, taste, hearing, and touch). Caregivers for someone living with this disease will need to be patient when waiting for a reply to a question or other interaction and not assume that the person did not see or hear something.

Speech is affected by Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) at some point during this progressive neuromuscular disease. More commonly called Lou Gehrig’s disease after the famous baseball player who was diagnosed with it in 1939, ALS affects the muscles used for movement, speech, breathing, and eating.

“You are encouraged to adapt to ALS continually in order to meet the demands of work, home, and other physical needs. With perseverance, ingenuity, technical assistance, and support from others, you can continue to communicate at the highest level,” states the ALS Association in their guide, “Living with ALS: Adjusting to Swallowing and Speaking Difficulties.”

Our caregiver agency is happy to recommend a speech pathologist that’s trained in working with people living with ALS and can provide assistance and make suggestions to effectively help your loved one maintain speech and adapt to the changes.

The ALS Association offers these tips for speaking difficulties caused by ALS:

  • Speak slowly and repeat words when necessary
  • Establish a communication partner who can “translate” for you at times
  • Use an alphabet board to spell out words or an iPad or any other computer device to write out words

A family caregiver or professional caregiver can help with communication with doctors and others, and there are many communication devices to choose from when it becomes too difficult to talk.

Contact Homewatch CareGivers® with any questions you may have about our ALS communication tips.