Parkinson’s Care – How to Help Seniors with PD

by Eric Corum

Parkinson's Care

How To Care For Someone With Parkinson’s Disease (PD)?

Parkinson’s disease is a chronic and progressive movement disorder that results from the degradation of vital nerve cells in the brain. Parkinson’s disease is progressive, meaning it will continually worsen over time. The more the disease progresses the less dopamine (a compound present in the body as a neurotransmitter and a precursor of other substances) the brain receives as a result of the death of neurons.

The primary symptoms that result are:

  • Uncontrollable tremors
  • Slowness of movement
  • Stiffness
  • Impaired balance and coordination

Although there is currently no cure, medications and treatment options are available to help.
Parkinson's care infographic

Caregivers and Parkinson’s Care

As the disease progresses, the person suffering will require careful attention and specific Parkinson’s care plans. This is why caregivers play an important role in the life of somebody with Parkinson’s disease. However, the constant responsibilities of being a primary caregiving make the role simultaneously difficult and stressful. If the primary caregiver is a family member, he or she will need to be prepared for some drastic changes in how they see and deal with the person affected by Parkinson’s. There are many steps one must take as a caregiver in order to be prepared for the fluctuations that most likely lie ahead.

After one’s loved one is diagnosed, understanding one’s new role and the prevailing changes is extremely important for everyone involved. One way to ensure this understanding is to research more about the disease, specifically with the goal of becoming more educated about caregiving. Some new caregivers may decide to consult with an experienced caregiver for advice. One of the intricacies of caring for a loved one with Parkinson’s is the fact that the disease affects each individual in different ways. The progression and prevalence of certain symptoms is different for each individual.

What to Expect From Parkinson’s Care?

Caregivers should expect seniors to be a challenge. Fatigue is one common condition that people affected by Parkinson’s disease can expect. Although one can expect fatigue, it can be inconsistent and happen at different times which makes it difficult to plan. Keeping a dynamic schedule that will yield to the different energy levels of one’s love one is extremely important.

Mood changes often arise from Parkinson’s. These can be problematic because they make caring for the individual even more taxing. These mood changes come at different times and can be triggered for different reasons making them difficult to predict.

Difficult decision will have to be made as the disease progresses. As the disease progresses, the individual affected will began to lose his ability to function properly, especially when it comes to movement, which can lead to the decision to forbid one’s loved one from operating a vehicle or dangerous appliances. These decisions can be devastating to one’s loved one because it strips them of their independence.

Special Challenges of Caring for Someone with Parkinson’s Disease

It takes time and lots of patience and practice to understand when a senior needs assistance or when they require your help to finish a task.
There are many symptoms caused by PD and as many medication and life-tups that improve quality of life for patients affected by this disease.

Parkinson’s disease is an always evolving disease and as such it is important to always keep an eye on the senior’s behaviour, especially:

  • Changes in the way they move
  • Changes in their mood

 

These changes can impact seniors and as things change it important to also educate the seniors themselves, who might not be aware of the changes in their body. The understanding of risks that come with the diagnosis. Risks such as falling and impairment.

Parkinson’s care for a loved one affected by the disease can be extremely taxing on the mind and body. There are several steps one should take as a caregiver to help during this process. One of the key things one must do is to plan ahead. A prudent step, is to proactively put in place a parkinson’s care team that could help in the future in case of an emergency or a needed break. This team should be formed as soon as possible so one’s loved one can begin familiarizing himself with the potential future caregivers. This team can also function as a support group in case the primary caregiver needs the added moral support.

One important consideration for the primary caregiver is that they must never forget to take care of themselves. A primary caregiver cannot properly care for someone with Parkinson’s disease without having proper mental and physical health. Eating healthy, exercise, sleeping well, and finding time to relax is vital to maintaining well-being during the caregiving process.

Parkinson’s is disease that requires careful attention and care. Although there is no cure for Parkinson’s, medication, treatment, and care can often help tremendously. Caregivers for those affected must be prepared for difficult situations that may arise during the caregiving process. A caregiver carries many responsibilities and the role can be extremely taxing, so taking care of oneself as a caregiver is vital in order to provide the best care.

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