How to Care for Someone with Parkinson’s
Families of those with Parkinson’s are able to learn from each other and from Assisted Living experts. Learn how to create a care plan, and make the best decisions for your loved one.
Of the myriad of conditions that many seniors face, few have as many universal signature characteristics as Parkinson’s Disease (PD). We’ve all seen evidence of its effect on the nervous system, but its most notable and recognizable symptoms come in the form of hand and body shakes. Decades of research have been amassed in the treatment of Parkinson’s, but to this point, physicians and researchers are limited to treating symptoms, as there is no known cure for the disease.
Parkinson’s is the fourth most common neurodegenerative disease, with 60,000 new cases in the U.S. annually. Families of those with Parkinson’s are able to learn from each other and cope the best they can. Likewise, Assisted Living Communities have been able to learn how to best provide a comfortable and safe environment so residents are able to live with minimal fear of potential hazards at home. The questions most often asked by family members are around how to care for someone with Parkinson’s, to help them have the most fulfilling lifestyle possible. Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can provide assistance and how to develop a care plan.
Living with Someone with Parkinson’s
Living with an older adult who experiences symptoms of Parkinson’s almost invariably causes high levels of stress. As much as you work hard to protect your loved one, the practicality of the disease makes it very difficult to do so while maintaining a “normal” life of your own. Creating a care plan can help.
Creating a Care Plan for Someone with Parkinson’s
Because of the complexity of PD and the amount of support needed, the care plan for a person with Parkinson’s must be a collaborative effort that leverages input from a physician, therapist, general caregiver, family members, and often, Assisted Living experts. That plan must be flexible as the disease progresses over time, with the goal of improving functional mobility for the sufferer.
There are comorbidities that range from simple breathing challenges to gastro-intestinal complications that make bowel movements a challenge. Without a coordinated plan customized for each senior, life can be incredibly complicated, far beyond the tremors everyone sees.
Here’s how to start:
- Talk with your loved one about their daily concerns and how they feel they would be best supported.
- Consult with medical professionals for advice.
- Develop a step-by-step plan with clearly defined goals and timelines.
- Implement the support plan slowly and make achievable progress in stages.
While there may be no cure for Parkinson’s, it is possible to implement a care plan that can improve quality of life.
How to Help Someone with Parkinson’s Walk
The complications of Parkinson’s—not surprisingly—affect normal gait, so equipping a home with rails or other assistance for stairs is essential, although often far beyond the capabilities of a caring family member or household.
Often, oxygen is needed when normal respiration is a challenge, especially when walking. This is due to the airway becoming collapsed, or in many cases, compromised with mucus that needs to be evacuated manually. This condition is helped along by a typical “slouching” that occurs. It simply can’t be ignored or the senior will become hypoxic (suffering from a low oxygen level). Seniors with Parkinson’s will often need bronchodilators (think of the over-the-counter product marketed as Primatene used for Asthma, but of prescription-strength) in order to have a positive and rapid response from the airways.
Physical assistance with walking can be beneficial. It’s usually best to walk at a slow but consistent pace and to take big steps. Seniors with Parkinson’s may also benefit from walking aids.
Words of Encouragement for Someone with Parkinson’s
Parkinson’s is so complex that regular words of encouragement are necessary. This is not a disease that can or should be treated by anyone other than medical and care staff who know what they’re doing. Referah Family Connection Agents can help families find suitable communities that are familiar with Parkinson’s and provide expert treatment.
A full understanding of Parkinson’s can help you respond with compassion, and your loved one’s best interests at heart. All families can benefit from the counsel of an Assisted Living Community management team and their solid track record.
Unfortunately, unprofessional, non-compliant “care facilities” do exist, that claim to serve seniors with Parkinson’s and numerous other conditions, but fail to provide proper care. You can learn more about how to avoid these in our next article “Signs of Abuse and Neglect in Care Facilities.”
Find a Senior Living Community Near You
Parkinson’s is never easy. Referah Family Connection Agents can provide the best advice to improve your loved one’s life and minimize stress all-round. Learn to lean on our resources and team. You’ll find a willing and knowledgeable ally, and a community that meets you and your loved one’s needs.