What Is Parkinson’s? Tips for Caring for a Parent with Parkinson’s Disease

Caring for a Parent with Parkinson's Disease

Helping your aging parents remain in the comfort of their homes can be a challenge. Over time, we naturally lose the ability to do certain things as our bodies age and develop certain health issues that prevent us from carrying out daily tasks or self-maintenance. Unfortunately, diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s can worsen our capacity to take care of ourselves dramatically.

By the year 2020, nearly one million people will be living with Parkinson’s disease, according to the Parkinson’s Foundation. Only four percent of those diagnosed are under the age of 50.

With such a large percentage of Parkinson’s patients being age 50 or older, it’s important to know what to do if your parent(s) suffer from the disease.

Here are five tips to help you care for a parent with Parkinson’s.

1. Know the Early Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s Disease is a progressive nervous system disorder. It affects movement in the body.

While the mind typically stays sharp, the body loses the ability to function and symptoms begin to worsen over time.

Early signs and symptoms of the disease include:

  • Hand tremors
  • Rigid muscles
  • Stiff posture
  • Slow speech
  • and loss of balance.

2. Early Symptoms– Don’t Wait to Schedule an Appointment

If you notice any of these early symptoms, don’t wait to help your parent get a diagnosis and treatment. While there is no cure for Parkinson’s, early treatment of symptoms can help slow their progression and gives your family more time to plan ahead.

With early diagnosis and treatment, it’s also important to ask for care resources. Research tools and physical therapies with doctors who specialize in helping patients with Parkinson’s can help your parent continue doing daily tasks on their own.

In fact, physical therapy plays a vital role in the treating and maintaining of function in individuals with neurological diseases or injuries.

3. Make a Checklist

Go through a typical day with your parent. As Parkinson’s progresses, motor skills deteriorate so

what was once a routine part of their day will become a challenge. Observe how well they are grooming, getting dressed, eating/preparing meals, tidying up, and other routine activities. Make a list of tasks that you notice have become more difficult (or impossible) for them to perform. By taking note of the tasks your parent is struggling to do, the doctor can target problem areas to create a physical therapy plan and find tools to make the task easier.

With the right kind of therapy, your parent can:

  • Improve level of function – treatments can help them move better, safer, and with greater strength
  • Relieve pain – physical therapy helps to soothe nerve endings through a variety of treatments such as gentle hands on therapy and massage techniques, joint mobilization techniques, electrical stimulation, and specialized nerve exercises.
  • Improve balance and walking ability – physical therapists will analyze your parent’s walking, balance, and coordination and use state-of-the-art equipment to determine the best course of treatment to help their ability to walk and balance
  • Enhance Safety – those suffering a neurological disease have a higher tendency of falling and injuring themselves, physical therapists will work closely with your parent to help them move better and with more strength

4. Plan Ahead & Research Help for Their Care

Prepare for when your parent can no longer do many routine tasks on their own. We recommend organizing and implementing proper financial planning as early as possible to avoid putting any financial strain on yourself and/or your family.

A practical next step might be researching the different living options for your parents, such as in-home care. Moving to a nursing home or assisted living center can often trigger stress, anxiety, discomfort, and a faster rate of health deterioration.

With Mind & Mobility’s in-home alternatives to assisted living, your parent can maintain their independence in the comfort of their own home with the assistance they need to stay healthy and safe.

5. Help Them Stay Social

Being homebound with a debilitating disease can be lonely for your aging parent. It’s important to help them stay connected to their friends and family.

Help them spend time with friends or enjoy visitors in their home.

Your parent might also benefit from interacting with others suffering from Parkinson’s.

Find a local Parkinson’s support group. Your loved one might enjoy a community of people their age who can relate to the challenges of Parkinson’s.

You’re an Important Part of Parkinson’s Care

It’s difficult to watch our parents grow old and struggle in any way shape or form. It’s also difficult to know how to help.

Finding professional help for Parkinson’s care is one of the best ways to help your parent. It’s also one of the best ways to find the support you need as their caretaker.

Mind and Mobility can provide support for both you and your parent suffering from Parkinson’s disease. We are a caring community of experts helping seniors age at home with comfort and grace.

Contact Mind & Mobility for a free consultation and guidance on the best plan for your parent.

 

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