April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month. The Parkinson’s Foundation’s 2023 campaign is encouraging everyone to take 6 minutes – the amount of time for every new diagnosis – to raise awareness of this disease. They are encouraging practitioners, Parkinson’s caregivers like Comfort Home Care, and loved ones to share their support on social media using #Take6ForPD. Their website has a plethora of statistics and resources to help you understand Parkinson’s, what causes it, and how to treat it.
The In-home care providers Comfort Home Care, in Rockville, MD, have been helping those with Parkinson’s lead full and fulfilling lives for nearly a quarter of a century.
What is Parkinson’s Disease?
According to the National Institute on Aging, “Parkinson’s disease is a brain disorder that causes unintended or uncontrollable movements, such as shaking, stiffness, and difficulty with balance and coordination. Symptoms usually begin gradually and worsen over time. As the disease progresses, people may have difficulty walking and talking.”
What Causes Parkinson’s Disease?
Scientifically, Parkinson’s Disease occurs when the neurons in the brain that control movement are damaged or destroyed. These neurons produce a chemical called dopamine, which helps coordinate movement. When these cells die or are damaged, dopamine levels drop, causing the symptoms of Parkinson’s. At this time, scientists don’t know exactly what causes the damage to the neurons but believe that a combination of genetic and environmental factors plays a role.
Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease
The symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease can vary from person to person and generally develop slowly over years. Friends and family are typically the first to notice the subtle changes in their loved ones. Here are some of the motor and non-motor symptoms to look for:
Motor or movement-related symptoms
- Bradykinesia – slowness
- Hypokinesia – limited movement
- Limb stiffness
- Gait and balance problems
- Depression and anxiety
- Cognitive changes
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking
- Difficulty toileting
- Sleep disorders
5 Tips for Caregivers and Families
The thought of caring for someone with Parkinson’s can be a scary concept. But it doesn’t have to be. There are several things caregivers and families can do to support their loved ones. First and most important is to understand the physical and emotional changes your loved one will experience due to the disease.
- Encourage healthy habits – regular exercise, a balanced diet, and a good night’s sleep – to maintain or improve symptoms and overall health.
- Set a schedule for medications, doctor appointments, and treatments that work for both you and the patient. Using a tool like a smartphone, in which alerts can be set, helps eliminate your having to constantly remind them and running the risk of becoming a nag.
- Watch for changes in your loved one’s behavior and motor skills. You will be instrumental in keeping their care team informed. The more they know, the better they can treat.
- Be patient and know there will be good days and not-so-good days. Give your loved one extra time to complete tasks before jumping in. It’s important that they stay as independent as possible. And recognize plans may need to be altered or canceled. It’s better to cancel the plans and have a stay-at-home day than to push your loved one beyond their capacity for that day.
- Consider joining a support group or seek professional help to manage the stress and emotional strain that come with caring for someone. In-home care can provide the respite care you need to recharge your batteries while providing excellent skilled care for your loved one.
Parkinson’s Disease In-Home Care Services
In-home care services for Parkinson’s provide comprehensive support to those living with this disease. They also help alleviate much of the anxiety, stress, and other difficult emotions that commonly accompany full-time or part-time caregivers.
Services are tailored to each individual’s needs, helping with medication management, medical appointments and therapy sessions, meal preparation, and mobility assistance. The ultimate goal is to help your loved one maintain a high quality of life with appropriate levels of independence
Living Well With Parkinson’s Disease
While Parkinson’s Disease can be challenging to manage, seniors can still enjoy an active life with the proper support and resources. It’s essential to focus on what your senior can still do, such as engaging in hobbies, spending time with loved ones, and pursuing interests. By actively managing symptoms, seniors with Parkinson’s Disease can maintain their independence their quality of life and continue to thrive.
Parkinson’s Disease is a complex condition that requires careful management and support. We can support our loved ones and improve their quality of life with proper education and resources. For more information about Parkinson’s disease and in-home care services in the Rockville, MD, area, please contact Comfort Home Care.