Parkinson’s is the most common neurological disorder in older adults. Here is a complete guide to help you care for your older adults with Parkinson’s Disease.
Parkinson’s disease is the neurological disease commonly seen in people after 60. It affects the person’s ability to maintain balance or control movement.
The most common symptoms include tremors, muscle stiffness, issues in balancing, and coordination problems. This disease is likely to progress or worsen over time—people who suffer from this need to rely on others for their support and care.
You will like to take care of your loved ones with Parkinson’s Disease in the best way possible. Here is the complete guide for seniors and caregivers about this diseases, wherein we will cover:
- Parkinson’s disease & Symptoms
- Stages Of Parkinson’s disease.
- Parkinson’s disease in the elderly.
- Guide for Seniors and caregivers.
- Challenges seniors and caregivers are likely to face.
- Can bike rides reduce signs of Parkinson’s?
- How can boxing help?
Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder that most commonly occurs in people above the age of 60. It starts in the brain. The nerve cells present in the mid-brain (substantia Nigra) control the movement of the muscles and produce dopamine, a chemical responsible for muscle function.
When these neurons get damaged, people may find movement issues that include tremors, muscle stiffness, and other symptoms.
Parkinson’s Disease In The Elderly
The biggest risk factor for Parkinson’s is age. It affects 1% of people above the age of 60. People suffering from this disease may find it difficult to walk and balance, and they may suffer from shaking hands or stiff muscles. There will be some mental and behavioral changes in them.
This disease affects multiple parts of the body and brain. It starts slowly and gets worse over time. The cause of this disease is still not known, but it is believed to be due to genetic and environmental factors.
Though people may experience different symptoms, it may be difficult to notice early signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s. Sometimes you may find that only one side of the body is affected even if it is there on both sides. The symptoms can be:
Slow Movements (Bradykinesia)
You will find your movement is slowed down owing to slow transmission of instructions from the brain. You will find it difficult to do your daily tasks, and it will take longer for you to do them. You may be taking small steps while walking or may find it difficult to even walk. It might become difficult to get out of the chair.
You will notice tremors in your hands and arms first, and they can then start in your legs and feet as well. You may start rubbing your thumb and pointer finger back and forth and may find your hand shaking even when it is kept relaxed.
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You will find your muscles becoming stiff in one part of your body. You may not be able to move freely, and it can be painful and limit your muscle movement.
Posture and Balance Issue
You may feel your back is stooped and may find it difficult to balance as well.
You will find changes while you speak. It may become more monotone or maybe quick while talking. You may even hesitate while talking.
This disease sometimes affects the way you write. Your handwriting may change (it becomes smaller that is very difficult to read), and you may find it difficult to write fast.
Some people may experience emotional changes like depression due to Parkinson’s.
Loss Of Movement
There will be a loss of movement or a decrease in the ability to perform movements like blinking, moving your arms, or even smiling.
Other symptoms include anxiety, hallucinations, skin problems like dandruff, swallowing problems, memory issues, and even loss of smell.
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Stages Of Parkinson’s Disease
Each person with Parkinson’s Disease will experience different symptoms. Some may have very mild symptoms, while some have severe issues. Sometimes these symptoms are unpredictable and may worsen over time.
Usually, this disease progresses from an early stage to a mild to an advanced stage. Let us look at what happens at each stage of this disease.
Early symptoms of this disease are mild and occur gradually. You will be able to do your daily work and may not notice the symptoms. You may think the symptoms are a sign of growing old.
You may feel fatigued and have slight tremors. Family members may notice some signs before you do, and you may notice muscle stiffness, lack of movement, or handwriting changes.
At this stage, the symptoms may get worse. You may have tremors, stiffness, and balance issues on both sides of the body.
You may find it difficult to do your daily work independently and may require help. You may need longer time to finish your daily tasks such as bathing, dressing, and taking time to do other work.
At this stage, a person may find it difficult to stand or walk independently, and they may require some help or assistance while moving.
You may be bedridden or need a wheelchair to move around at this stage. You may even have delusions or hallucinations. A caregiver needs to be with you all the time.
Guide For Seniors And Caregivers
People with Parkinson’s Disease need support and care from their family members and caregivers. Let us look at some useful tips to be a better caregiver.
As a caregiver, you need to be familiar with Parkinson’s Disease. This will make sure you can care for the patient and will be easy for you to take care of if the disease progresses.
It may take some time to learn about the disease and its symptoms. With time, you may have to learn about all the patients’ medications.
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This disease will start gradually. The patient will notice some tremors in their hands and find it difficult to move or walk. The caregiver needs to notice these small changes and prepare themselves.
But when the disease is diagnosed, the caregiver can prepare themselves for the future and take less stress. They can plan who will do the basic grocery shopping and prepare meals and other such changes.
Create A Routine For A Person With Parkinson’s
People with Parkinson’s may experience symptoms prominent on some days more than others. As a caregiver, you need to make sure to create a daily routine for your loved ones and help them with their daily routine, like helping them with meals, baths, writing, and moving around the house safely.
You can talk about their routine and set up reminders for some important things, including frequent meals, medication alarms, exercise time, therapy sessions, and other activities. Just make sure to involve your loved ones in planning the schedule and prepare them with the necessary changes.
When your loved one’s disease worsens over time, you need to help them up with their daily activities, which will involve the following:
- Take some time to help your family member move out of bed. Such sudden changes may pressure them, prone to light headaches.
- You may need to adjust the sleeping position to 30° or get an adjustable bed.
- You can make brushing easy by getting them an electronic brush and taking care of their hygiene.
- You can keep anti-slip bath mats for the safety of your loved ones.
- You need to watch out for signs of depression and get the treatment on time.
- Keep track of symptoms that a person may have and consult the healthcare team for assistance.
- Set reminders on your smartphones for medications.
Manage Their Medications
You can talk with your loved ones about what medications they are into. You can make it easy to find each medicine by labeling them up, so it is easy to find. So when your loved ones need to take any medicines, they can directly look at the label and have it without disturbing you. You can create a medicine box for daily doses.
You may even have to consult their doctor if you find any symptoms or changes in your loved ones and look for the risks involved. This may include low blood pressure, swelling of limbs, insomnia, and other such side effects. Keep a note of all the observations and symptoms of the patient before visiting the doctor next.
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As a caregiver, you need to observe your loved ones with changes in symptoms and moods. Note all the changes you see after the change in medication and consult your doctor for the same. A person with this disease will be doing all the activities and tasks they used to do earlier, like going out with friends or doing their routine work.
But they may not realize certain changes that they should avoid doing. This may include not driving anymore, and there may be a risk of falling or getting hurt. You may need to remind your loved ones what they can do and what they cannot.
Daily Exercise And Physical Activity
Doing regular exercise is one form of medication. It will help a person benefit from the symptoms such as tremors, stiff muscles, constipation, and mobility issues. It will further improve the balance and flexibility of a person.
They can even do light-based home activities like gardening, laundry, cycling, and yoga. Playing some games like tennis also helps a person be active and flexible.
In the early stages of Parkinson’s Disease, it is advised to go out to gyms and fitness studios and be socially active. People with mild problems can have some therapy sessions and get the right therapy for their issues.
However, it is important to keep an eye on people with Parkinson’s Disease as they will risk losing balance or falling.
Changes In Diet
People with Parkinson’s Disease who can prepare their meals should include fresh fruits and vegetables that provide fiber. They should follow a healthy diet. In the later stage of this disease, they may find it difficult to swallow food or feed themselves. They will need to start having soft foods like yogurt and mashed potatoes and frequently have small portions of meals.
Challenges Seniors And Caregivers Are Likely To Face
People with Parkinson’s Disease may find it difficult to communicate their problems. The person may have different symptoms each day. Sometimes they will be able to do their work normally, and sometimes they need to depend on others. This is a part of Parkinson’s Disease.
The caregiver may feel that the person is being manipulative or demanding unnecessarily. The caregiver needs to know well about the disease and keep in mind that the disease is very unpredictable. The disease may worsen over time. Consulting the doctor and taking medication will ease some symptoms but not stop the progression.
Depression is also a part of the disease, and getting the treatment on time will help your loved ones cope with the problems early.
Can Bike Rides Reduce The Signs Of Parkinson’s?
According to some research, people who ride bikes at least three days a week can reduce the symptoms of Parkinson’s. Riding a bike is as effective as taking medications to ease the symptoms.
So people who are physically active and ride bikes are many fitters and have few symptoms. They will need fewer medications and have few health complications related to the lungs, heart, and vessels.
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How Can Boxing Help?
Exercising in any way helps people with Parkinson’s Disease. It helps people to balance well and perform their routine work.
Boxing therapy helps people improve hand-eye coordination, mobility, strength, and balance. Parkinson’s boxing sessions are mostly 90-minutes which includes warm-up exercises, punching, jumping ropes, and some core workouts.
It is important to take good care of your loved ones with Parkinson’s Disease. They will find a lot of changes and difficulties in their life, and they are likely to face emotional and physical problems.
A caregiver should be there to support and help their loved ones. Having some changes in lifestyle and having a healthy diet will help ease some disease symptoms.
By reading this article, I hope you will be able to help and care for your loved ones with Parkinson’s Disease in a better way.