Parkinson’s disease primarily impacts seniors and their ability to move, causing difficulty in their day to day life. The role of a caregiver to aid and assist them is critical to helping them live a comfortable life.
Caregiving for a senior is challenging on its own, but when Parkinson’s disease is involved it creates a whole new dynamic. It’s crucial that caregivers are aware of their loved one’s limitations and needs to provide the best care possible.
Let’s take a look at what to expect with Parkinson’s disease and what steps can be taken to provide relief for an aging loved one.
What is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disease that causes uncontrollable movements such as shaking, stiffness, and difficulty with balance and coordination.
As the disease progresses, people may also have difficulty with walking, talking, and mental health.
More than 10 million people worldwide live with PD, and the vast majority are over the age of 50. It is the second most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s.
Parkinson’s Effect on the Elderly
Most of the effects of Parkinson’s disease come as a loss of motor functions. Seniors with PD often experience tremors, stiffened muscles, and difficulty balancing. This loss of motor function can make simple day-to-day tasks extremely challenging, as well as make seniors vulnerable to dangerous falls and slips.
Non-motor effects of PD usually come later on in the progression of the disease. These can include cognitive impairment, insomnia, depression, anxiety, and difficulty with memory & speaking.
Whether it’s motor or non-motor effects of PD, the role of a caregiver will be essential to ensure that physical and mental needs are met in order to live a fulfilling life with the disease.
Prescribed medication by your loved one’s doctor is the primary treatment for Parkinson’s disease. One thing caregivers can do to help a loved one is to prioritize medication reminders so that symptoms can be managed effectively.
To provide proper medication reminders, try:
- Keeping medication in a cool, dry place
- Presorting meds for the week
- Monitoring your loved one
- Being proactive with refills
For more information on medication reminders read our blog on the subject here.
Proactive Safety Measures
Parkinson’s disease affects balance, making seniors vulnerable to slips and falls. It’s critical that caregivers take precautions to prevent serious injury for their loved one.
Remove anything that increases the chances of a slip or fall. Loose rugs, clutter in walkways, and wires can all pose serious threats to someone with PD.
Try installing grab rails in the bathroom and on staircases. Also, ensure adequate lighting throughout the house to aid your loved one.
Assisting them with mobility when needed is critical as well. Due to tremors, muscle stiffness, and a decrease in balance, a fall can happen at any time. Make sure you’re available to help with any difficult movement.
Lastly, make sure you have an emergency checklist in place in case they ever require medical attention.
An unfortunate symptom of PD is that some people can have difficulty swallowing as the disease progresses. Based on your loved one’s needs, offer foods that are easier for them to swallow, such as yogurt, smoothies, and anything with a softer texture. In addition to soft foods, consider offering smaller, more frequent meals to reduce the risk of choking.
A healthy diet also has the potential to improve your loved one’s overall quality of life. Consider offering them a balanced diet with foods high in fiber and avoiding overly processed meals.
A healthy diet, along with proper hydration, has the potential to reduce feelings of dizziness and weakness when battling PD.
Having your loved one be engaged in regular exercise and movement can do wonders for managing their PD symptoms. It can improve their balance and strength, enhance mood, and combat certain symptoms of the disease.
The Parkinson’s Foundation collaborated with the American College of Sports Medicine to provide a PD safe exercise program, consisting of aerobics, strength and balance training, as well as stretching.
Consulting with a physical therapist is recommended for anyone with Parkinson’s to help manage symptoms.
In-Home Care for Parkinson’s
Taking care of someone with Parkinson’s disease can be a full-time job. It’s certainly not easy, but it’s essential to ensure they get the care and love they deserve.
At Golden Care, we offer in-home care for seniors with Parkinson’s Disease. We don’t believe in a one-size fits all approach, and will tailor a care plan that’s suited for you and your loved one’s needs.
For more information on in-home care or caregiving for someone with Parkinson’s disease, don’t hesitate to contact us today.