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Behind #icebucketchallenge: 19 Things You Should Know About ALS

Behind #icebucketchallenge: 19 Things You Should Know About ALS

The “Ice Bucket Challenge” has been all over social media lately. Basically, the idea is that participants in the challenge film themselves getting doused in ice water in support of the ALS Association. Participants nominate friends and family to either complete the ice bucket challenge as well, or to donate to the ALS Association (most people are expected to donate around $100).

With all of the attention and donations that the ALSA has been getting (the organization has so far raised $88.5 million), many people still aren’t sure what ALS is. The point of the challenge is to raise awareness of the disease and to raise money to fight it, but not everyone is as informed as they could be. So consider this your comprehensive guide to all things ALS and educate yourself a little bit before participating in that bucket challenge.

Who gets ALS?

1. ALS stands for Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

It is also known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” as American baseball player Lou Gehrig was diagnosed with the disease in his mid-30s, thus ending his career with the Yankees. ALS is what is known as a motor neuron disease.

2. Genetics is a risk factor.

According to the Mayo Clinic, between 5-10 % of people with the disease inherited it from a parent. Children of people with ALS have approximately a 50/50 chance of getting the disease.

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3. Smoking is also a factor.

Smokers have a greater chance of getting the disease than nonsmokers. The longer the smoker has been smoking, the greater the chance of getting ALS. Quitting can reduce these chances.

4. Middle age is when most are diagnosed.

Most people diagnosed with ALS are between the ages of 40 and 60.

What is ALS?

5. ALS causes nerve cells to die.

Nerve cells in ALS sufferers break down and eventually die, which leads to extreme difficulty in controlling muscle movement.

6. It starts with twitching.

In many ALS patients, the first signs of the disease are twitching in the arms and legs. Weakness in the limbs is also a possible sign of the disease.

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7. It eventually leads to bigger problems.

After diagnosis, most people only live for around 2-5 years, according to the ALS Association. People with ALS eventually have difficulty doing many basic tasks and struggle with speech. Near the end, people with ALS cannot swallow, and eventually, cannot breathe.

8. It is not contagious.

No one with ALS can give it to anyone else. This is good news for family members or friends who wish to keep their loved ones with ALS at home for as long as possible. Many family members take on the role of caregiver, and with no risk of contagion that is easier to do.

9. ALS is terminal and there is no cure.

People diagnosed with ALS die from the disease, and so far there is no cure. The ALS Association uses the money donated to research the disease, as well as provide care for people and families who are currently coping with the disease.

What is it like to have ALS?

10. Muscle weakness.

Picking up objects and doing what most of us might consider to be simple tasks like brushing our teeth become very difficult. One woman whose husband has ALS describes picking up a fork as being like picking up a 10 lb. weight again and again.

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11. Fatigue.

One symptom of ALS is extreme fatigue, including excessive yawning.

12. Pain.

ALS makes it hard to move when uncomfortable, and the muscles that waste away are no longer stimulated. Even turning over in bed may not be possible.

13. Paralysis.

Eventually, the disease leads to paralysis. Imagine not being able to move any part of your body but your eyes, and you’ve got a glimpse into what paralysis must feel like.

Can ALS be prevented?

14. Not smoking.

Nonsmokers have a lesser chance of getting the disease, as mentioned above. If you’re a smoker, quitting reduces your odds.

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15. Eating brightly colored fruits and veggies.

There is some evidence that eating brightly colored fruits and veggies (especially those that are red, orange, and yellow) can help prevent the disease.

What can I do?

16. Ice bucket challenge.

The ice bucket challenge has raised tons of awareness and money for the ALS Association. If you’re inspired to participate, please do! Nominate your friends and family and challenge them to continue raising awareness.

17. Donate money.

If you don’t want to dump ice water on your head, consider just making a donation at alsa.org. Any donation, no matter how small, will make a difference.

18. Raise awareness.

Share this post and any other information with your friends and family on social media to help spread the word and educate people about ALS.

19. Hold a fundraiser.

If you want to raise more money than you could donate on your own, consider holding a fundraiser at your school, church, or community center.

Featured photo credit: University of Central Arkansas via flickr.com

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Maggie Heath

Maggie is a passionate writer who blogs about communication and lifestyle on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on September 28, 2020

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.

Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.

One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.

When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.

So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.

Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day

This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.

Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.

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When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.

Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity

One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.

Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.

An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.[1]

When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.

Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day

Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.

We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.

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By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.

Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment

While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.

I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.

You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.

Con #1: We Move a Lot Less

When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.

Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.

Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.

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Con #2: Less Human Interaction

One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.

Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.

Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.

This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.

While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.

Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment

Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.

This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.

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For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.

Con #4: Unique Distractions

Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.

For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.

To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.

Final Thoughts

Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.

We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.

More About Working From Home

Featured photo credit: Standsome Worklifestyle via unsplash.com

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