April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month, which is an excellent time to review some of the basics of this condition that affects over one million Americans. The more you know, the better you’ll be able to spot early warning symptoms and provide better care for loved ones with Parkinson’s disease.
What is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder with no known cause. Dopamine-producing neurons in the brain deteriorate over time, causing movement problems such as muscle stiffness, poor balance, and tremors.
What are the most common signs and symptoms?
Symptoms and severity vary from person to person, especially as the condition advances, but here are a few to keep an eye out for:
- Tremors in the hands, arms, legs, or jaw
- slow movement.
- Body or limb stiffness,
- Balance issues
- Small handwriting
- Changes in gait, such as shuffling the feet or taking small, quick steps
- Stooped posture
There can also be non-movement symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, such as:
- A softer tone of voice when speaking
- Sleep disorders
- Vision issues
- Loss of smell
- Anxiety or depression
How is Parkinson’s treated?
Although there is no known treatment for Parkinson’s disease, many patients are prescribed medications to manage symptoms and balance dopamine levels. Strengthening muscles, improving coordination and balance, increasing mobility, and maintaining independence can all be aided by physical, occupational, and aquatic therapy.
A speech therapist can help people with the communication challenges of Parkinson’s disease. Seniors can improve their nonverbal abilities and learn to use alternate communication devices while supporting their verbal communication.
Staying active is also important in managing Parkinson’s. Strength, agility, flexibility, balance, and endurance can be improved by incorporating a range of workouts.
How can In-Home Care Help Seniors with Parkinson’s Disease?
An in-home caregiver can be a great resource for seniors who want to preserve their freedom and safety. A caregiver can help with more difficult tasks as the disease progresses, such as meal preparation, light housekeeping, clothing, grooming, writing, navigating the home, and going out into the community. They can help with socialization while also keeping up with regular exercise routines.
Additionally, home care organizations can conduct home safety evaluations and make recommendations for adjustments or alterations to lower the chance of falling and increase overall safety. This allows seniors to age in place while keeping as much freedom as possible.