Are you or a loved one suffering from Parkinson’s? There is no need to feel alone. It is a neurological movement disorder characterised by impaired brain function. Over 10 million people around the world suffer from Parkinson’s disease.
As a progressive condition, Parkinson’s disease has no cure. Fortunately, treatment is often effective, often for a long time. As Parkinson’s disease progresses, patients may need more assistance from their caregivers.
There are ways to help a loved one with Parkinson’s. Know what to do, what to avoid, and how to stay healthy.
Know the Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease
Families and friends are often the first to notice Parkinson’s symptoms. In early stages, these changes are easily confused with signs of aging.
Parkinson’s symptoms include:
- Tremors or shaking in the hand or jaw
- Jerky, rigid movements
- Bradykinesia (slow movements)
- Muscle cramps and contractions
- Difficulty moving and maintaining balance
- Reduced facial expressiveness
- Stooped posture
- Difficulty chewing and swallowing
- Soft, hoarse, or monotonous speech
- Dizziness upon standing
- Cramped handwriting
- Trouble sleeping
- Urinary incontinence
- Loss of smell
- Dementia and other cognitive issues
- Hallucinations and delusions
Parkinson’s Disease: How You Can Help
The following are some ways in which you can assist someone who suffers from Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s disease can be treated with medication and surgery. It can be helpful for a loved one to:
- Accompany the person to doctor’s visits.
- Make sure the person is taking their medication regularly.
- Report any worsening symptoms or changes in behaviour to the person’s healthcare provider so they can adjust their medication and treatment plan accordingly.
As the person ages, they may develop dementia, making participation in their medical care more difficult. Medications may need to be decided by a trusted family member or caregiver.
The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease can make it difficult for people to walk and maintain their balance. To prevent someone with Parkinson’s disease from falling and injuring themselves, take these steps:
- Keep the floor clear of throw rugs, footstools, and other tripping hazards. Keep cables and wires away from the floor. Clean up spills immediately.
- Install grab bars in the bathing area and anti-skid mats in the bathroom.
- Brighten entryways, hallways, and staircases in the house. Night lights make it easier for the person to get to the bathroom at night.
- Securing the stairs: Check that none of the treads are loose. For support, install a railing on both sides. Shift their living quarters to the ground floor if they have difficulty using the stairs. Install ramps for stairs you can’t avoid.
- Make your living situation safer by consulting an occupational therapist.
Everyday activities can be harder with Parkinson’s disease. Here are some tips:
- Due to symptoms such as hand tremors, muscle cramps, and bradykinesia, your loved one may take longer to complete simple tasks such as getting dressed. Give them enough time to finish their daily tasks by planning ahead. Before starting, wait until the medication kicks in if they’re taking medication.
- You may want to simplify buttoning, zippering, and lacing for your loved one. Toolkits with button aids, zipper pulls, sock aids, long-handled shoehorns, and dressing sticks can be helpful. To make dressing easier, replace their clothes and shoes with versions with Velcro or elasticated closures.
- People with Parkinson’s disease may require assistance with bathing, dressing, and other personal hygiene tasks as their motor functions decline.
To cope with the changes brought by the diagnosis, your loved one will need a lot of emotional support. Denial, shock, disbelief, fear, sorrow, anger, and frustration are common emotions they feel.
You can provide your loved one with emotional support by using the following tips:
- You can help your loved one cope with Parkinson’s disease by learning about the condition.
- Support them in seeking therapy or joining a support group to help them cope with their emotions.
- Spend time with friends and family to have their company and support: Planning activities where the person can spend time with friends and family can be helpful.
- Despite all that you may have to do to care for a terminally ill person, remain affectionate and maintain your bond with them. Make the time spent together enjoyable for both of you by adding fun elements like songs and jokes to your daily routine.
Managing Parkinson’s Disease as a Caregiver
These are some things to avoid while caring for someone with Parkinson’s disease:
- Stay with a daily schedule: Follow the same routine throughout the day so the person knows what to expect. Changing routines may be challenging.
- Make sure there are no distracting stimuli in the person’s environment, like loud noises or bright-patterned decor, since that can be confusing.
- Changes to their environment should be avoided, such as changing the layout of the house. Fall prevention can be achieved by keeping it the same.
- Communication with them should be simple: only ask ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions. Don’t interrupt them or finish their sentences. If you interrupt them between sentences, they may become confused.
- You should be patient with them: Parkinson’s disease can impede speech and movement. Make them feel comfortable by matching their pace.
- Be careful not to shout at them: It’s easy to get frustrated or angry with your loved one. Be careful not to shout at them. Parkinson’s disease may be accompanied by dementia, which can lead to aggressive behavior. Talk to them calmly and be still.
Talking with loved ones about Parkinson’s
Here are some tips for talking to a loved one about Parkinson’s:
- Make sure you check in regularly to see how the person is doing.
- Be empathetic: Parkinson’s disease can hinder a person’s daily activities. Previously easy tasks might be challenging. They may find this difficult and frustrating. Empathize with them so they feel supported.
- As Parkinson’s disease progresses, the individual may not be able to drive, cook, clean, or care for themselves. Make sure they know they can count on you for assistance.
- If your loved one has the ability to make important decisions, you can encourage them to do so.
As a caregiver, here are a few tips to keep in mind
It’s important to take care of yourself while caring for someone with Parkinson’s disease. Here are some tips:
- Be patient with yourself: You may not be the only one struggling with your loved one’s diagnosis. Your entire world might feel as though it has turned upside down. Allow yourself to process your emotions so that you can stabilize yourself and support others.
- Caregiving is stressful and requires a lot of effort. Establishing realistic goals and determining your limits can be helpful.
- Allow yourself to make mistakes: People sometimes fail to do everything they planned or as they hoped. You are human, so everything isn’t always perfect.
- Find medical services, support groups, and other community resources in advance to help your loved one or yourself.
Your helping hand, HomeCare Mellor
When a loved one is diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, you probably have a lot of questions about how the disease progresses and what you can do to help.
Understanding the condition can help you prepare for the journey ahead. Take care of yourself throughout the process and get help when you need it.
Speak to us today on;
01772 722 985 or 01254 689 981