By now, almost everyone has heard of the “Ice Bucket Challenge.” You may have even taken it yourself. Celebrities, grandparents, teenagers, adults and even former Presidents are posting videos to social media of themselves dumping buckets of ice water over their heads.
The challenge began as an attempt to raise awareness and funds for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis – also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig ’s disease. It worked! Many people who had never heard of ALS have now done their research and understand what an ALS diagnosis means. That got us thinking.
ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects the brain and spine. Over time, muscles atrophy and walking, moving, swallowing, and ultimately breathing become impossible. There is no cure. Sooner or later, a person with ALS is going to die from the disease.
In many cases, the disease progresses slowly. Other neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s – both far more common than ALS, progress over time as well. Being diagnosed with any progressive disease is terrifying, but the time after that diagnosis is critical.
Rather than allowing yourself to focus only on what unknowns the disease will bring you over time, try to see it as an opportunity to take control of your life and treatment while your mind and body are able to do so. The way to do this is through life care planning. Having a comprehensive life care plan for dealing with a progressive neurodegenerative disease means you’ve already made decisions about your treatment and care.
If your disease leaves you unable to communicate your wishes to your loved ones, you and your family will have peace-of-mind through the knowledge that you’ve already set this plan in place for yourself.
Whether you’ve been diagnosed with a progressive disease or not, put down the ice water and do something truly proactive. Contact Anne Markel-Crozier, BSW, CSW, the life care planning coordinator at Bratton Scott Life Care Planning, and begin planning for your future.