5 Tips to Help People Living with Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive illness that affects as many as as one million people in the U.S., according to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation. It affects more people than multiple sclerosis (MS), muscular dystrophy and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)—also called Lou Gehrig’s disease—combined. There are five stages of Parkinson’s that range from mild symptoms (Stage 1) to severe stiffness, making those with the disease unable to care for themselves (Stage 5).
If your loved one has Parkinson’s, you will find that she needs more help as the disease progresses. However, there are some things that you can do that may help her manage a bit more independently for longer. Here are some tips:
Nutrition: A well-balanced diet is always a good idea, but it’s particularly helpful when someone has an illness like Parkinson’s. Consuming antioxidants, like those found in blueberries, broccoli, spinach, green tea, beans, and certain nuts, can also help fight oxidative stress, which may play a role in the cell damage that occurs with the disease.
Chewing/Swallowing: People with Parkinson’s often experience difficulties chewing their food and swallowing food and beverages. Anyone who provides care for a person with Parkinson’s should learn the Heimlich maneuver in case the person begins to choke on anything solid. If your loved one is having difficulty with chewing or swallowing, a dietitian or nutritionist may be able to provide you with ideas for foods that may be easier to eat. As well, a speech pathologist can assess your loved one’s swallowing and make recommendations.
Fall Prevention: Parkinson’s patients often have a difficult time with their balance and walking, so it is important that the home environment be as safe as possible to reduce the risk of falling. Installing items like customized toilet seats, as well as grab bars where appropriate, and removing obstructions throughout the home such as throw rugs, is a good start.
Anxiety and Depression: Combating depression and anxiety is a large part of the Parkinson’s battle. Watch your loved one closely for signs of depression, and have him or her evaluated by a doctor as soon as possible if you notice anything.
Medications: Medications used to treat Parkinson’s can have multiple side effects and they can affect people in different ways. Some medications may cause hallucinations or nightmares, for example. Be sure to ask your loved one’s physician about all the side effects of medications so you know what to expect. If for some reason you don’t get that information from the doctor, ask the pharmacist at the drug store where the prescriptions are filled. Pharmacists are the medication experts in the healthcare field.
The caregivers from Hillendale Home Care are experienced in the unique needs of people living with Parkinson’s disease. Are you or a loved one looking for companionship, personal care, someone to run errands, or assistance with meals? Our California home care services cover a wide range and we are ready to help! Contact us by phone at 925-933-8181 or online for a free in-home assessment to see how we can assist.