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What Are the Signs of Lou Gehrig’s Disease?

As seniors get older, there will be changes in their memory, mind, personality, and body. Minor changes are normal and nothing to be concerned about. It is drastic changes that should raise concerns. 

It’s essential to pay close attention to your senior loved ones during the holiday season, as family doesn’t always have the opportunity to sit down with one another. If your loved one appears to be having difficulty walking, holding on to things, and tripping frequently, an examination wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Lou Gehrig’s Disease makes it harder for seniors to use their motor skills. Those beginning to show signs of the disease will likely notice sensations and weakness in their arms and legs. 

Let’s go over the signs of Lou Gehrig’s Disease to help caregivers and family members recognize the symptoms and help their loved ones get treatment. 

What is Lou Gehrig’s Disease and How Does it Affect Someone?

Lou Gehrig’s Disease, also known as Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), is a progressive neurodegenerative disease. ALS destroys the motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord, causing weakness and loss of control in muscles. 

When seniors develop Lou Gehrig’s Disease, their symptoms will gradually appear. At first, caregivers will likely care for them in their homes. Caring for a senior with Lou Gehrig’s takes a great deal of patience. 

As the disease progresses, your senior’s symptoms will worsen, and they may need a more significant amount of care than you can provide. When this happens, you may begin to research enhanced assisted living communities. 

While symptoms of the disease may vary from person to person, below, you will find some of the most common signs of Lou Gehrig’s disease and when they are most likely to occur. 

Early symptoms

  • A hard time holding head up
  • Inability to hold on to things
  • Muscle cramps and twitching
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Slurred speech
  • Stumbling
  • Swallowing problems
  • Worsening posture
  • Uncontrollable emotions

Advanced symptoms

  • Difficult time communicating
  • Less muscle mass
  • More serious chewing and swallowing issues
  • Trouble breathing
  • Weaker muscles
  • Unable to walk
  • Unable to stand
  • Weight loss

Getting a Diagnosis for Lou Gehrig’s Disease

There is no single test to diagnose Lou Gehrig’s Disease. 

Your loved one will need to see a neurologist for a physical examination and take a series of tests to rule out other health conditions. 

Common tests and procedures may include the following.  

Blood and urine tests

These tests will eliminate other health conditions.

Cerebrospinal fluid test

Spinal fluid is collected from the spine and tested for biomarkers that indicate the likelihood of Lou Gehrig’s Disease.


Thin needs are inserted through the skin into different muscles, testing for muscle abnormalities.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Used to produce images of the brain and spinal cord, to rule out any other conditions. 

Nerve Conduction Studies

Electrode patches are placed on the skin over muscles to test how effectively the nerves transmit signals to muscles.

Muscle Biopsy

Not as common as the other tests. Involves removing a sample of muscle for testing.

Causes and Risk Factors of the Disease

Lou Gehrig’s disease occurs when motor neurons degenerate and die. In most cases, the cause of this disease is unknown. 

What is known about the condition is that men are more likely to be diagnosed with it than women, especially military veterans. Many veterans have been exposed to environmental toxins like pesticides and lead, leading to the disease. 

Age is also a risk factor, as the disease is most likely found in older adults between 40 and 75 years old. Though, more common after 65 years old. 

Up to 10 percent of Lou Gehrig’s cases are genetic. Only one parent needs to carry a gene for ALS, but there are thought to be at least 12 genetic mutations that can cause it. 

If your senior loved one happens to fall under any of these categories, and you notice changes in their movements, eating, and speech, getting them tested is essential in them being able to live their best life. Your loved one can still enjoy relationships and hobbies comfortably with proper care and tools.

Developing a Care Plan for Your Senior Loved One

If your loved one has been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease, developing a care plan can make life easier for them and your family. 

As a caregiver, it will often be up to you to ensure your senior loved one is safe and receives proper nutrition, socialization, and exercise. This may not be difficult early on, but as time goes on and your loved ones’ health declines, you may experience caregiver burnout

Your loved ones care plan should include when and where they will transition to when their needs increase. At an enhanced assisted living community, your loved one will receive around-the-clock care and help with dressing, bathing, eating, and taking medication. 

When you choose an assisted living and memory care community such as The Kensington Falls Church, in-house rehabilitation therapy will be available to your senior. Partnering with Genesis Rehab Services allows seniors to receive speech, physical, and occupational therapy, without traveling far.

Your Partners In Care: The Kensington Falls Church

Now that you know the signs of Lou Gehrig’s Disease, you can think about the next steps for your loved one.

At The Kensington Falls Church, it is Our Promise to love and care for your family as we do our own. We can help your loved one feel safe, secure, and comfortable. 

Whether your senior needs minimal care or specialized care, our compassionate staff and nurses are there to offer assistance, support and administer medication and injections. 

Our enhanced assisted living and memory care communities offer rehabilitation, psychological and psychiatric services, life-enrichment activities, and exquisite dining services. Contact us today to learn more about the amenities, resources, and programs we offer our residents and their families and our cozy and secure homes.