Parkinson's Disease Caregiving
How Parkinson’s Disease Impacts Seniors
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that impacts millions of people around the world. It creates physical and cognitive challenges for the seniors diagnosed with it and also impacts their loved ones and caregivers. As certain nerve cells in the brain degenerate due to PD, seniors become deficient in dopamine and lose control of movement. This results in unwanted tremors, stiffness, slow movement, problems with balancing, and cognitive change.
The importance of Caregiver support for seniors with Parkinson's Disease
Seniors with Parkinson’s disease (PD) face many challenges in their daily lives and can benefit greatly from the support of a well-trained caregiver. Their assistance can help seniors with PD navigate both physical and cognitive difficulties and improve their overall quality of life.
Family members and loved ones can also benefit from the role that caregivers play, as they no longer need to be alone in their efforts to provide support and excellent care. As Parkinson’s disease progresses, symptoms can become increasingly challenging to manage without a trained caregiver to help and provide relief. Fortunately, with their help, family members can find it much easier to prevent burnout, take breaks, and ensure their loved one is getting the care they deserve.
As family and friends know, it can be a challenge to provide consistent, quality care for a loved one with Parkinson’s disease. As symptoms progress over time, caregiving needs can become more physically and emotionally demanding for the patient and their family. Thankfully, working with a trained caregiver can help provide much-needed support and relief in these situations. Caregivers make it possible for family members and loved ones to take breaks, prevent burnout and boost the quality of life for everyone involved.
With the help of our experienced caregivers, seniors can more easily build a home environment that accommodates their daily needs. As Parkinson’s progresses, we provide increasing levels of care for daily activities while helping seniors maintain their independence as much as possible.
Here are just a few ways in which we support seniors with Parkinson’s:
Supporting medication routines
Planning nutritious meals
Promoting exercising and mobility
Providing safe transportation
Helping prevent falls
Assisting with personal care
How Our Caregivers Positively Impact Seniors with Parkinson’s
Creating Parkinson's Fighting meal plans
Our caregiving team supports patient health by shopping, cooking, and serving nutritious foods that help fight against Parkinson’s. By focusing on highly nutritious foods, we help seniors build strength in their bones and muscles. A healthy, fiber-rich diet has many important benefits and can help prevent muscles from deteriorating, reduce the accumulation of body fat, and set seniors up for higher levels of health in the long run.
Providing Activity that Boosts Mobility
Neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s can cause patients to experience tremors, shakes, and stiffness in their muscles. Our experts help patients with these symptoms by incorporating light activities such as walking and stretching. Rose’s caregivers make everyday activities easier by supporting patients as they carry out tasks and strive for independence in their daily lives.
Helping Ensure Medication is Taken Regularly
People with Parkinson’s may need assistance in managing medications as their disease progresses. With multiple prescriptions, it can be difficult to keep track of the various medications that need to be taken on a regular basis. Thankfully, our caregivers are highly experienced in this area and help remind seniors to take their medication at the right time. Doing so helps ensure that seniors with Parkinson’s are functioning as well as possible.
Making Daily Personal Care Easier
Seniors with Parkinson’s can benefit greatly from our experienced personal care techniques. Depending on their needs, Rose’s caregivers help with everyday hygiene tasks such as taking a bath, getting dressed, and going to the bathroom. We help seniors plan ahead and establish beneficial routines while making sure to respect their privacy at all times.
Ensuring Transportation is Available
It can be difficult for seniors with Parkinson’s to drive with the tremors and shakes they experience. Our caregiving team has years of experience in safely driving patients to doctor’s appointments, rehabilitation sessions, pharmacies, and more. We work hard to support our Parkinson’s patients with everyday errands while providing reliable transportation options.
Establishing Habits that Help Prevent Falls
Our trained caregivers know what it takes to lower the risk of falling for seniors with Parkinson’s. Exercise significantly reduces fall risk for seniors and can help those with Parkinson’s regain some of their balancing reflexes. Another area of focus for our caregivers is the home environment. To prevent falls from happening, they help make sure that tripping hazards are removed from the floor. It’s also important to tuck away any loose cables and ensure the floor is dry at all times.
Always Remaining Observant, Patient & Flexible
It is common for seniors with Parkinson’s to experience different symptoms from day to day. When starting something new, such as therapy or medication, it’s important to note the impact on the individual’s overall well-being. Caregivers can be a big help when it comes to observing changes in symptoms, abilities, and moods over time. They understand the importance of being patient and flexible with seniors that may be frustrated, upset, or saddened by their situation.
Stage 1 :
During this initial stage, the person has mild symptoms that generally do not interfere with daily activities. Tremor and other movement symptoms occur on one side of the body only. Changes in posture, walking and facial expressions occur.
Stage 2 :
Symptoms start getting worse. Tremor, rigidity and other movement symptoms affect both sides of the body or the midline (such as the neck and the trunk). Walking problems and poor posture may be apparent. The person is able to live alone, but daily tasks are more difficult and lengthier.
Stage 3 :
Considered mid-stage, loss of balance (such as unsteadiness as the person turns or when he/she is pushed from standing) is the hallmark. Falls are more common. Motor symptoms continue to worsen. Functionally the person is somewhat restricted in his/her daily activities now, but is still physically capable of leading an independent life. Disability is mild to moderate at this stage.
Stage 4 :
At this point, symptoms are fully developed and severely disabling. The person is still able to walk and stand without assistance, but may need to ambulate with a cane/walker for safety. The person needs significant help with activities of daily living and is unable to live alone.
Stage 5 :
This is the most advanced and debilitating stage. Stiffness in the legs may make it impossible to stand or walk. The person is bedridden or confined to a wheelchair unless aided. Around-the-clock care is required for all activities.
Types of Pain with Parkinson's Disease
At its simplest, pain means the body hurts. When a person feels pain, nerves in the skin, joints and organs alert the brain to the location of an injury. Researchers have found that in early PD, there are already changes in the way that the body detects and regulates pain. Pain is complex and can take many forms. In PD, pain tends to affect the side of the body where motor symptoms first appeared. If your PD started with a tremor in the right hand, you’re more likely to develop pain in the right shoulder, wrist or fingers. Here are a few common types.
Musculoskeletal pain - Musculoskeletal pain is experienced by up to 75 percent of people with PD and includes pain in the muscles, bones or skeleton. It is related to rigidity and decreased movement, and to arthritis. Many people with PD experience muscle cramps and tightness in the neck, spine and arms. Muscles may feel stiff or achy. Joint pain, especially in one shoulder, is also common. It’s not uncommon for people with PD to be diagnosed with frozen shoulder or rotator cuff problems, and even undergo surgery.
Dystonic pain - Do you have painful curling of your foot, toes or hands? This is dystonia, a painful muscle spasm. Up to 50 percent of people with PD experience this at some stage of the disease. Foot dystonia is one of the most common sources of dystonic pain in early PD. Severe, painful spasms also can occur in the neck, face or throat muscles. Dystonia may occur spontaneously or may be triggered by certain movements, but is very often experienced in the early morning. It can also be related to fluctuations in PD medications. Report dystonia to your doctor for evaluation or recommendations.
Neuropathic pain - Also called radicular pain, neuropathic pain occurs when a nerve is crushed or inflamed. Between five and 30 percent of people with PD experience neuropathic pain. It feels sharp, electric, tingling or like coolness or numbness. In people with PD, changes in posture, as well as dystonia, can cause nerves to be crushed. A common type is sciatica - lower back pain that extends down one leg. People with PD may also experience peripheral neuropathy - injury to nerve endings that begins with numbness in the toes or fingertips.
Central pain - Central pain affects about 10 percent of people with PD at some point. It can be difficult to describe but may include a vague, constant boring sensation; abdominal pain, reflux, shortness of breath or feeling flushed; painful sensations around the mouth, genital or rectal areas or simply “pain all over.”
Optimize PD Medications - It is critical to ensure your PD medications are working to their best ability. Your doctor may want to examine you immediately before and after you take PD medications. To increase, decrease or change your medication to extend its effectiveness.
Exercise and Physical Therapy - Exercise is beneficial, particularly for musculoskeletal pain, but it can be a catch-22. It may be difficult to exercise when you’re in pain, but if you’re in pain and you stop moving, it gets worse! A physical therapist can recommend exercises or techniques to target the source of your pain. For example, if you experience neuropathic pain, the physical therapist can help improve your posture, which may alleviate pain.
Other Medication - Chronic pain and depression are intertwined. If a person experiences depression, it may worsen pain and other PD symptoms. In addition, people who are depressed have a hard time taking medications properly, and this sets a vicious cycle in motion: with missed doses, medications don’t work well, and a person feels worse. Treating depression is essential for managing pain. It’s also important to treat other health conditions, such as osteoporosis or diabetes, that impact pain..
Self management for pain -
If pain is long lasting (chronic), apply heat to the area for 15-20 minutes. Purchase a microwaveable hot pack that conforms to the area (or make your own with rice in a tube sock knotted at the opening). Heat pack according to directions; heat rice-filled sock for approximately two minutes in microwave.
If muscles feel tense or “knotted,” try self massage. Apply pressure to the area with a tennis ball, using your body weight against it for deeper pressure. Knobby plastic massage tools or a Theracane can be used to get better leverage on hard-to-reach areas. An appointment with a massage therapist may also be helpful.