Parkinson’s disease is a chronic and progressive movement disorder whose symptoms continue and worsen over time.
Nearly one million people in the US are living with Parkinson’s disease.
The cause is unknown and there is currently no cure but there are treatment options, including medication and surgery.
Parkinson’s disease in every stage of the process causes frustration and disruptions in daily tasks for seniors and their caregivers.
The goal for family caregivers is to help manage the symptoms to reduce the impact on the life of the loved one with Parkinson’s.
Symptoms can be different for each person.
Common symptoms include:
- rest tremors
- uncoordinated movements
- slow movements
- postural instability
Caregivers Help Cope
Caregivers are often the ones to help those with Parkinson’s complete their tasks of daily living especially as the symptoms progress.
Here are some tips to help you cope:
- If your senior experiences what is known as “freezing,” when muscles suddenly lock up especially during walking, use an auditory or visual cue such as counting with each step or picturing an object and stepping over it.
- If your senior is having tremors, the hallmark symptom of Parkinson’s, have them purposefully move the affected body part to alleviate the symptoms.
- If your senior is having trouble eating food due to uncoordinated movement, try balance-enhancing exercises such as Tai Chi to regain coordination in day to day movements.
- If your senior has postural instability, that is they look like they are leaning into the wind, balance exercises and physical therapy can improve muscle strength to help with balance and prevent falls.
- Be sure to take the medications intended to help symptoms as prescribed.
- Be ready to discuss any changes or concerns with your senior’s doctor.
- Be aware that the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease can fluctuate throughout the day and week. Understanding these fluctuations and helping your senior loved one do as much for themselves as they can on any given day will help you both cope better.
We have a few other posts that you might find informative about Parkinson’s Disease and Caregiving.
It is important for caregivers of people with Parkinson’s to take good care of themselves too because this disease can be slow to progress and you may be caring for them for an extended period of time.
Naturally you are happy they are with you for years, but this level of caregiving can take a physical and mental toll on you so be sure to practice self-care daily.