When a loved one is diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, (PD) it can be a difficult time for the entire family. The disease can affect not only the person with Parkinson’s, but also impact his or her loved ones.
For those family members who are now caregivers for their loved ones with Parkinson’s, it’s important to know how to manage the disease and help your loved one cope with it. This guide will help you learn more about what Parkinson’s disease is and how it affects your loved one, as well as provide tips on how to care for them.
What is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a chronic neurological condition that affects movement and is caused by the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells. PD symptoms can include tremors, muscular rigidity, slowness of movement and balance problems. The condition typically progresses slowly over several years, with symptoms generally worsening over time.
Although Parkinson’s disease can be treated, there is currently no cure.
The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease can be very mild in some people, while others experience severe symptoms. In most cases, there is no known cause for this disorder. However, it is believed that genetics and environment may play a role in its development.
What to Do After Parkinson’s Diagnosis
After a loved one is diagnosed with this disease, there are some steps that should be taken to ensure their health and wellbeing.
- Create a Routine
Creating a routine for your loved one will help them feel more in control of their life and give them something to look forward to each day. When making this routine, make sure to schedule activities that include both work and leisure. This will help them feel more in control of their day, as well-being is important for maintaining positive mental health.
- Make Doctor Appointments
Regularly visit the doctor. Parkinson’s disease can progress at different rates for each person, so it’s important that doctors keep an eye on how well medications are working and whether they need adjustments or new treatments altogether.
- Keep a Record of Your Loved One’s Mood & Behavior
As the disease progresses, it’s important to keep your loved one’s mood and behavior changes in mind. This can help doctors monitor how Parkinson’s disease is affecting them and determine whether adjustments are needed in treatment plans.
Keep a journal of loved one’s moods and emotions as they go through this difficult time. As you track their behavior, you may be able to spot patterns or trends that can help you better understand what’s going on with your loved one and how best to support them.
Parkinson’s Disease Care in Daily Life
After a loved one is diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, there are several things you can do to help them maintain a happy and healthy, daily life. Here at Home Care Assistance, we encourage all to live a Balanced Care Method™ lifestyle, no matter what stage of life they are at, or no matter what diagnosis one may have.
These tips, including some helpful advice from our Balanced Care Method™, are great ways to help you and your loved ones maintain a healthy lifestyle. We encourage you to utilize them as you care for your loved ones with Parkinson’s disease:
- Stay positive.
You can’t help your loved one if you’re negative and angry all the time, so try to maintain a positive attitude. Although you may feel isolated or frustrated, it is important that you try to stay upbeat and keep your spirits up. Your attitude will influence the people around you—including those who depend on you!
- Be patient.
Be patient with your loved one as they learn how to cope with the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease in daily life, like walking slowly or having trouble with speech. Caregivers often feel frustrated and helpless, which can lead to anger and resentment. It’s important to recognize these feelings and take steps to manage them. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your responsibilities, consider asking for help from family members or friends. Be as mindful and patient as you can.
- Keep your loved one social.
Parkinson’s disease can make it difficult for your loved one to interact with others. They may have trouble making conversation or keeping up with what others are saying, so if they’re frequently alone during the day, try inviting friends and family over to visit them. This can help them feel more connected and less lonely.
- Encourage them to exercise often.
Research has found that people with Parkinson’s disease who exercise on a regular basis tend to have better motor skills, balance and flexibility than those who don’t. Exercise also helps people with Parkinson’s disease manage their symptoms, such as depression and anxiety. You can encourage your loved one to exercise by taking a walk around the neighborhood or doing simple strength-building exercises at home.
- Help your loved ones eat a balanced diet.
Research has found that people with Parkinson’s disease who eat a balanced diet tend to have better motor skills and memory than those who don’t. Eating a balanced diet can also help prevent other health problems, such as high blood pressure and heart disease. You may want to talk with your loved one’s doctor about a diet plan that can help ease symptoms and prevent other problems.
Maintaining Independence & Fall Prevention
If you are caring for a senior loved one and want to help them retain as much independence as possible, it is sometimes necessary to modify their living space.
Here are some suggestions you can try:
- Install handrails in high traffic areas and on both sides of the bed. Make sure they are sturdy enough to support you when you lean on them. This can help your loved one feel supported and safe in different areas of the home.
- Avoid slippery surfaces such as tile floors or rugs that don’t have a non-skid backing; add rubber mats in high-traffic areas of your house. Or, if the rug serves as an obstacle rather than an improvement, you may just remove the rug completely.
- Install grab bars in bathrooms near tubs, showers, and even near the toilet if needed. The bathroom is known for being a slippery space, and for those with Parkinson’s disease who are beginning to experience balance problems, it can be especially dangerous. Grab bars can help your loved one feel safer and more secure in the bathroom. You can also install a stool in front of the toilet, so they have something to hold onto while sitting down or standing up. Adding a shower chair can also be helpful in making bathing more comfortable.
- Modify the home environment so that it’s easier for your loved one’s to move around in. For example: clear pathways through rooms so there aren’t any obstacles for them, and keep furniture out of high-traffic areas so it doesn’t get bumped into as much when someone is moving around quickly (which can lead to falls). If possible, try making sure there are handrails on both sides of staircases so no matter which direction someone goes, they’ll always have something solid right next to them at all times.
It can be challenging to care for someone with Parkinson’s disease. The disease is progressive and symptoms may worsen over time, so it’s important to know what kind of resources are available. This information, including advice from our Balanced Care Method™, is here to help you and your loved one along the journey. As you educate yourself and convert these tips into your daily life, both you and your loved one can find purpose and meaning.
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