Parkinson’s disease is a neurological condition. The most compelling evidence, it affects more than 10 million elderly worldwide. Another key point, it is a progressive disease, degenerative in nature. Unfortunately, there is not a cure. But with effective treatment methods management is possible to a certain extent. Parkinson’s disease affects movement the most. Also, some studies also suggest a decline in the cognitive functioning of the elderly.
Understanding Parkinson’s disease
The management of our emotional thought processes and senses come from different parts of the brain. They work in conjugation for the smooth functioning of all neurological processes. For example, the simple task of body movement occurs due to the active involvement of various parts of the brain. This part of the brain is the basal ganglia and cerebral cortex. Dopamine is a chemical that signals one part of the brain to another. And these send signals to the various nerve cells called neuron cells.
The death of neuron cells in the brain marks the onset of Parkinson’s disease. When the nerve cells die, they can no longer produce dopamine. As a result of which there is no communication between different parts of the brain. This process hampers the movement and other activities involving neurological functioning.
As Parkinson’s disease is a life-altering condition. It becomes extremely necessary that we give proper support and care to our seniors.
Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease
The early symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are usually mild. The disease affects only one side of the body during the preliminary stage. However, as the disease progresses, symptoms worsen. Making matters really difficult for our elderly loved ones. Understanding the symptoms is necessary to take better care of our loved one suffering from the condition. Furthermore, having appropriate knowledge would also help caregivers. Take appropriate steps in case of an emergency. Following is a list of symptoms:
This is one of the commonest symptoms of Parkinson’s; however, not all suffer from this. The tremors begin on one side of the body. Usually with the hands and in many cases, gradually affects the arms, chin, legs.
Movement becomes slow (bradykinesia)
As the disease progresses, movement becomes slow. Our loved ones are unable to move their hands at the same speed. Moreover, the elderly are also unable to make normal facial expressions while talking.
Muscle stiffness causes the affected area to ache. In the early stages, most people think it is due to arthritis or other orthopedic problems.
In the initial stages, our loved ones may experience difficulty walking at normal speeds. They take unusually small steps and may trip and fall due to poor balance. Furthermore, our loved ones may also find it difficult to lift their leg fully. Causing them to drag their affected foot. Gradually postural problems may also set in, and elderly develop a stooped torso.
Cognitive impairment may develop and becomes severe as the disease progresses. Our loved ones may experience distractibility or forgetfulness. This will cause a slowed down mental process that makes learning new information difficult. Elderly also face visual-spatial and language difficulties.
Difficulty in writing
Increase in frequency of urination
Difficulty in swallowing
Caring for an elderly with Parkinson’s disease
Caring for our loved one with Parkinson’s disease is not an easy task. The magnitude of the problem, severity as well as the diversity of the symptoms can be a challenge. The following tips can help the caregivers. So that they can take appropriate care of their elderly.
Body tremors affect their daily activities.
Our loved ones will experience difficulty in getting dressed by themselves. Also, eating also becomes a major problem. As a caregiver, you have an important role to play. Gently help your loved one in getting dressed or while eating. Also, help them with their personal hygiene. Mealtime is really a difficult time, due to the tremors their experience. In such cases, serve them meals that are easy for them to eat. You can also serve them in plastic ware so that it doesn’t break, even if they drop it. In severe cases, it is best to feed them the food, so that they can properly finish their meal. Furthermore, it is always good to encourage them to carry out their activities independently. So that they are not dependent on every small activity.
Parkinson’s disease is a disabling condition that brings along several challenges.
Along with treatment, take several steps to manage the symptoms. There are several things that you can do. Encouraging your loved one to undergo exercise on a regular basis can help them a lot. Exercising regularly would help your elderly remain mobile. Also, it would also gradually bring back the muscle strength. In addition, you also need to encourage your elderly to walk as much as possible. Walking would gradually help restore their balance. And prevent frequent falls and consequent injuries. If your elderly shows interest in exercising. Look for some fitness centers, those which entertain such patients with Parkinson’s. Best would be those centers which have pools. This is because, exercising in a pool, will exert less strain on your loved one. Water absorbs maximum body weight, which enables your loved one to exercise with ease. Adopting all these techniques would not eradicate the symptoms. But will go a long way in effectively managing the symptoms.
Enrolled in some support groups.
This will help your loved one to socialize with the same age group suffering from the same condition. Exchanging thoughts and views will help drive away loneliness and depression. Your duty as a caregiver will be to have appropriate transportation for attending the support group meetings.
Parkinson’s disease can present swallowing and eating problems.
Your loved one can fall prey to malnutrition. Therefore, it becomes your duty to discuss the problem with your doctor. Also, give your loved ones the kinds of foods that would be easier for them to eat.
Make your loved one’s home a safe place to live.
The home should be fall-proof so that your loved ones do not get hurt. Remove all unnecessary clutter from the hallway. And areas where your loved one frequently walks around. This would prevent unnecessary falls and accidents. You also need to put the essentials within easy reach. So that your elderly would not have to strain much while reaching for them. Another key point, you also need to install grab bars in the shower. And make arrangements for a shower bench, so that your elderly loved one can bathe in peace. In addition, you are also required to make the house well lit. So that your loved one can visit the bathroom without any hindrance.
Parkinson’s disease affects different individuals differently. The degree, as well as the nature of the symptoms, also varies to a great extent. Therefore, caregivers should understand the nature of the symptoms. Adopting various ways to help your elderly manage the symptoms, would be a great way to help your elderly live a healthy and fulfilling life. All the above-mentioned tips should certainly help your elderly manage their disease in a better manner. For more useful information, check out this site. Also, check out this post on leg tremors for more help.
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