According to the ALS Association, there are around 5,000 people in the United States diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) each year. That equates to around 15 new cases each day. Usually, people are diagnosed with the disease when they are between 40 and 70 years old. The average age of diagnosis is 55. If you have concerns about whether your parent may have or be at risk for ALS, knowing more about the risk factors may allay your fears or prompt you to have them evaluated for the disease.
Who Gets ALS?
First, you should know that ALS is not catching. Your parent cannot get the disease by being exposed to someone else who has it. The disease is considered rare and cases are mostly random, making it difficult for researchers to determine what might put people at greater risk. A few statistics researchers know about the disease are:
- 60 percent of ALS cases occur in men.
- 93 percent of people who get the disease are Caucasian.
What Are the Risk Factors?
There are two kinds of ALS, sporadic and familial. Only between 5 and 10 percent of cases are familial. These are the cases of ALS that run in the family, meaning other family members have had the disease. In families where familial ALS is present, the children of people who get the disease have about a 50 percent chance of getting it, too.
Sporadic ALS is much more common. Sporadic ALS happens in people who have no history of the disease in their family or any other clear reasons for developing the disease. Their family members are at no greater risk for getting it than anyone else.
Doctors don’t know the cause of ALS, but they have established the following risk factors:
- Heredity: People for whom ALS runs in the family are at higher risk.
- Age: The chances of getting ALS increases with age, with most diagnoses occurring between 40 and 60 years of age.
- Gender: Before age 65, ALS occurs in more men than women. After age 70, gender differences disappear.
- Genetics: Researchers have found similarities in genes in people who have familial ALS and those who have sporadic ALS, suggesting genes may play a role.
If your aging parent is diagnosed with ALS, elderly care can help you to give them the best care and life possible in the time they have left. An elderly care provider can help with virtually all of their non-medical needs, including dressing, eating, toileting, and bathing. Elderly care providers can also be a source of companionship when getting out of the house becomes more difficult because of disability. Elderly care can also give family members peace of mind knowing that their loved one is being taken care of when they cannot be there because of work or other responsibilities.
If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring professional elderly care in Pelham, AL, call and talk to the staff at Lipford Home Care (205) 623-5700.