ALS Support Groups for Patients and Caregivers

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, is a neurodegenerative disease that causes motor neurons, the nerve cells that control voluntary movement, to deteriorate. ALS can present physical and psychological challenges, such as anxiety, depression, and feelings of grief and loss. It is essential for individuals living with ALS and their caregivers to have a strong support network.

This article discusses the benefits of ALS support groups and how to find these resources for people affected by ALS.

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Living With an ALS Diagnosis

ALS is one of the most prevalent neurodegenerative disorders for which there is no cure. Accepting this reality and learning how to live with ALS can create mental and emotional struggles. Developing coping strategies to manage the various emotions that may arise is crucial. 

ALS is typically associated with weakness, stiffness, and pain. Research shows that actively engaging in strategies to cope with pain can be beneficial for psychological well-being. It is also important to consider the emotional burden of ALS and adopt coping strategies to manage anxiety, depression, and grief.

Benefits of ALS Support Groups

Researchers reviewed 18 studies about methods for coping with ALS and found that the primary coping strategy was seeking social support. A support network can help you manage medical appointments and other condition-related tasks.

Support groups are a great way to connect with individuals who share similar experiences. Some of the benefits of ALS support groups include:

  • Learning to cope with the diagnosis
  • Building a sense of community
  • Feeling safe to share experiences and learn from others
  • Developing coping strategies
  • Discovering ways to support and advocate for yourself 
  • Establishing boundaries for yourself as a patient or caregiver

Major ALS Support Organizations

The ALS Association is committed to sharing local resources and groups, providing advocacy information, and supporting research to find a cure. They have established chapters across the United States and offer various support groups for people with the condition and their caregivers. You can use the ALS Association’s search tool to find a support group.

ALS Ride for Life is a charity organization whose mission is to give back to the ALS community. In addition to their namesake event to raise funds and awareness, they offer educational materials, mobility support, end-of-life support, and online groups for people living with or caring for someone with ALS.

Other Resources for ALS

While emotional support is crucial for managing ALS, it is important to consider other areas of life affected by the condition and seek additional resources.

Learn About the Condition

Understanding the physical and mental changes that may come with ALS can help alleviate fear after a diagnosis. Asking questions and talking with a healthcare provider about the ways in which ALS will affect you and your prognosis (outlook) can be a great way to educate yourself.

Government Programs

Government assistance may be available if you or someone you love has received an ALS diagnosis and needs financial support. The Social Security Administration has programs, including Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), that offer assistance to qualified people.

Medicare helps with the cost of healthcare, including some medical visits, medical equipment, and medications. It is intended for people over 65; however, people younger than 65 may qualify, if they have a disability, end-stage kidney disease, or ALS.

Medicaid is a government-funded health insurance program that offers support for medical expenses based on income rather than age. It is possible to qualify for both.

Health Insurance and Prescription Drug Coverage

Medications for ALS can be expensive. One option to help cut costs is to utilize your health insurance. If you have questions about the coverage or cost of a medication, you can contact your insurance carrier directly by calling the Member Services number on the back of your ID card. Sometimes, pharmaceutical companies or government programs, like Medicare Part D, assist with lowering the cost of medication.

Clinical Trials

ALS research is ongoing. Federally and privately funded clinical trials help researchers continue studying and learning about the disease. The ALS Association provides information on current clinical trials and research efforts.

How to Find Support Groups for Patients or Caregivers

Ask your healthcare provider about local support groups, or look for virtual support groups through a trusted ALS organization. Researching the group's topic, format, date, and time can help you find a group that fits your personality and preferences.

If you are hesitant about attending a group meeting, the group facilitator's contact information is often available online. Reach out to that individual and ask questions to help ease your mind.

If you attend a group and decide it is not a good fit for you, try a different one or seek support through other avenues. 

Online Communities

Online ALS support communities and forums are similar to in-person groups and may be easier to access than an in-person group. One 2022 study that looked at support groups for caregivers of people with ALS found that the caregivers preferred the flexibility of online groups, which allowed them to participate at a convenient time and place.


The physical and psychological impact of ALS can be overwhelming. Resources are available for those living with and caring for someone with ALS. You may qualify for programs offering financial assistance to help offset medical expenses. Having an online or in-person support network to lean on can help you create a community, share your experiences, and learn to care for yourself and others as you navigate life with ALS.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can someone with ALS be cared for at home?

    People with ALS may receive nursing and therapeutic services or end-of-life care at home. Depending on the severity of your symptoms and needs, you and your loved ones should consider your options. Talking with a healthcare provider or social worker may help determine the needed services.

  • What is the life expectancy for ALS?

    There is no cure or treatment to reverse muscle damage caused by ALS. The progression of the disease may differ from person to person, but the average life expectancy for those diagnosed with the condition is less than five years.

  • Is ALS reversible?

    There is no cure for ALS. Some medications may help manage symptoms associated with ALS, but there is no effective treatment to reverse disease progression. Because the disease is progressive, the motor neurons will continue to deteriorate.

9 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Riancho, J., Gil-Bea, F. J., Santurtun, A., & López de Munaín, A. (2019). Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: a complex syndrome that needs an integrated research approachNeural regeneration research14(2), 193–196.

  3. Schlichte I, Petri S, Dengler R, et al. Pain-Related Coping Behavior in ALS: The Interplay between Maladaptive Coping, the Patient's Affective State and PainJ Clin Med. 2022;11(4):944. Published 2022 Feb 11. doi:10.3390/jcm11040944

  4. Leandro GS, Dourado Júnior MET, Santana GC, Dantas LSX. Coping strategies among amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) patients: an integrative reviewJ Neurol. 2022;269(2):693-702. doi:10.1007/s00415-021-10472-2

  5. Social Security Administration. Disability benefits.

  6. Social Security Administration. Medicare benefits.

  7. Medicaid.

  8. D'Alvano G, Buonanno D, Passaniti C, et al. Support Needs and Interventions for Family Caregivers of Patients with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS): A Narrative Review with Report of Telemedicine Experiences at the Time of COVID-19 PandemicBrain Sci. 2021;12(1):49. Published 2021 Dec 30. doi:10.3390/brainsci12010049

  9. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

By Geralyn Dexter, LMHC
Geralyn is passionate about empathetic and evidence-based counseling and developing wellness-related content that empowers and equips others to live authentically and healthily.