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Parkinson’s Disease Care
Parkinson’s disease, also known as PD, is a progressive disease that affects the brain and leads to a variety of symptoms. Most people are aware of the movement symptoms such as tremors or walking with a shuffling gait. Other symptoms may include difficulty swallowing, unusually slow speech and dementia.
The senior care needs of a person with PD increase as his or her illness progresses. If you have a family member in the East Bay who is suffering from Parkinson’s, our trained and compassionate staff are here to help you get through a difficult situation.
We understand the unique issues that face you and your loved ones, and we will provide care to help your loved one maintain independence for as long as possible.
How Can Caregivers Assist a Person with Parkinson’s Disease?
Caregivers also need to have a lot of patience, since it is important to encourage someone with PD to do everything he or she can with the least amount of assistance possible.
The caregivers at Aging in Place Home Care can help your loved one with several different areas of his or her life.
Bathing. We encourage showering over bathing. Trying to get in and out of a tub presents a fall risk, especially as the disease progresses. If your loved one is unsteady on his or her feet, we will help him or her use hand bars or sit on a shower bench. A handheld showerhead may also make it easier for your loved one to clean up.
Dressing. Our caregivers will help your loved one select clothes that are easy to put on. We will lay out clothes, offer verbal prompts and provide physical assistance when your loved one can no longer dress him or herself.
Eating. Our staff can help provide your loved one with a healthy diet. According to WebMD, for instance, eating foods with fiber can ease constipation that may accompany Parkinson’s disease. Eating or drinking plenty of calcium is also important because calcium strengthens bones and lessens the likelihood of fractures after falls. If your loved one is too tired to manage a full meal, we will provide smaller meals more frequently during the day.
Activities. We will help your loved one participate in his or her favorite activities. We can also find ways to adapt those activities to your loved one’s changing abilities.
“Anyone providing care for a person with Parkinson’s disease must be compassionate, intuitive and flexible. Most people with PD have good days when they can do more for themselves and bad days when they need extra help. Over time, though, their condition usually declines. The caregivers at Aging in Place Home Care are trained to watch for these changes and respond accordingly.”
What Causes the Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease?
The primary symptoms of Parkinson’s deal with the way the body moves. According to the National Institute on Aging, these unusual movements occur when the nerve cells in the brain that release a chemical called dopamine become damaged or die. This results in a lack of dopamine in the brain.
Additionally, the brain affected by PD loses nerve endings that produce a chemical called norepinephrine. Norepinephrine controls the body’s automatic functions such as beating and maintaining a regular heart rhythm. The decrease of norepinephrine may be responsible for PD symptoms such as irregular blood pressure, problems with digestion and fatigue.
People with Parkinson’s disease may also develop clumps of proteins called Lewy bodies in the brain. Lewy bodies appear to be responsible for dementia, or cognitive decline, in people with PD.
What Are the Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease?
According to the Mayo Clinic, there are two types of Parkinson’s symptoms, primary and secondary.
Primary symptoms are often the first PD symptoms to appear. They grow worse over time. Primary symptoms involve problems with movement and may include
- tremors or trembling
- bradykinesia or abnormally slow movements
- stiffness or rigidity
- poor posture or slumping
- Parkinsonian gait – pattern of walking characterized by shuffling, stooping, diminished movement of arms and freezing
Secondary symptoms generally occur later in the disease process. Not everyone with PD experiences all of these symptoms which include
- difficulty swallowing
- increased perspiration
- erectile dysfunction
- increased frequency and urgency of urination
- slow, quiet and monotone speech
- depression, stress and anxiety
How is Parkinson’s Disease Treated?
Sadly, there is currently no cure for PD. However, there are treatments that can help make the symptoms more manageable. Of course, you
Most of these treatments focus on increasing the levels of dopamine in the brain.
Some people with PD also elect to have surgery to place tiny electrodes in the brain. These electrodes provide deep brain stimulation, or DBS, to help ease problems with movement.
What Are the Stages of Parkinson’s Disease?
MedicineNet identifies five stages of PD. During the first stage, a person begins to experience mild motor symptoms. While annoying, these symptoms generally don’t interfere with the person’s daily life.
In the second stage, the symptoms begin to grow worse. The person starts to have trouble walking and may fall. During this stage, a caregiver can provide emotional support and encourage the person to complete any exercises the doctor or physical therapist has prescribed.
The third stage of PD brings a pronounced loss of balance as well as slow movements. Talking may become difficult, and the person may experience cognitive problems such as memory loss, inability to plan and poor impulse control. During this stage, fatigue may also become an issue.
In the fourth stage, the person with PD begins to require additional hands-on assistance for all activities including grooming, bathing, dressing and eating. Moving in with a family member, or hiring a 24/7 caregiver at home are two good options at this stage.
During the fifth and final stage of PD, the person will require extensive assistance with all activities. He or she may be confined to bed or to a wheelchair. Some people begin to see or hear things that aren’t actually present.
Providing senior care for a loved one with Parkinson’s disease can be very challenging for a family member. Let our trained and skilled healthcare providers in the East Bay area of San Francisco give you support and help your loved one maintain as much independence and dignity as possible while dealing with this serious condition.
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