At-Home Care for Seniors with Parkinson’s Disease

Has your loved one been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease? With early detection and proper care, your senior can still experience many years of fulfillment.

While any diagnosis can be scary, know that Parkinson’s itself is not fatal.

Parkinson’s Disease is a brain disorder that leads to shaking, stiffness, and difficulty with walking, balance, and coordination. Symptoms usually begin gradually and worsen over time. As the disease progresses, people may have difficulty walking and talking. While speech and movements are affected, the patients often retain their total mental capacity and can participate in their care plan.

Parkinson’s Disease has four primary symptoms:

• Trembling in hands, arms, legs, jaw, or head

• Stiffness of the limbs and trunk

• Slowness of movement

• Impaired balance and coordination, sometimes leading to falls

If you are providing care for the primary activities to the main symptoms, you may see the following in your loved one:

• Difficulty swallowing, chewing, and speaking

• Less animated facial expressions

• Sleep disruption

• Changed handwriting

• Urinary issues

• Skin problems

• Depression

• Soft speech

Parkinson’s (PD) progression can be slow, and the initial signs may be very subtle. There is no test for the disease, so attention to detail is essential to help your physician make a diagnosis.

Source: National Institute on Aging

Primary Concerns

The primary concerns for patients are from falling or from pneumonia. Since Parkinson’s affects the neural pathways controlling movement and balance, even walking on flat surfaces can be challenging to navigate. Falls that require surgery carry multiple risks to our older adults related to medications, blood clots and heart involvement.

Parkinson’s also eventually affects the ability to swallow, leading to an increased risk of aspirating food or drink into their lungs. While many of us can “cough up” items we’ve swallowed incorrectly, those with Parkinson’s may be unable to do this. This, in turn, can lead to pneumonia and other pulmonary complications. Coughing serves a purpose in usual illnesses to clear mucous and phlegm from our chests to keep them from building up and becoming infected. 

Unfortunately, our loved ones with PD are not able to adequately cough to clear this and are at risk for multiple more risky conditions, including pneumonia and the need for hospitalization.

Your Care Team

As with many diseases that can affect our older adults, staying active and pursuing a healthy diet can slow the progression of the disease.

The healthcare team at Promyse Home Care has experience caring for seniors through all stages of Parkinson’s Disease. We understand that symptoms may worsen rapidly; we are prepared to adapt and adjust your loved one’s level of care. Our compassionate, individualized approach puts seniors’ immediate needs at the heart of everything we do.

What Parkinson’s care at home looks like.

Exercise for Parkinson’s Disease

Aerobic Activity – 3 days a week for 30 minutes per session can include brisk walking, running, cycling, swimming, and an aerobics class

Strength Training – 2–3 non-consecutive days for 30 minutes per session – can include weight machines, resistance bands, and light/moderate handheld weights.

Balance Exercises – 2–3 days per week with daily more minor activities and should include activities that require multi-directional stepping, weight shifting, dynamic balance activities, large movements, and multitasking such as yoga, tai chi, dance, or boxing.

Stretching – 2–3 days per week with daily stretches being ideal and should work on sustained stretching with deep breathing or dynamic stretching before exercise.

Diet for Parkinson’s Disease

• Drink six glasses of water daily to help medications break down more efficiently.

• Fiber-rich foods will help deter constipation.

• Limit sugar, alcohol, and caffeine in the evening to help eliminate sleep problems.

• Ensure adequate vitamin D to help with bone health.

• Include nuts like walnuts and cashews to promote brain health.

• Incorporate berries like blueberries and strawberries for their antioxidant properties.

• Eating foods like salmon, tuna, and dark leafy vegetables contain anti-inflammatory properties for our brains.Source: Parkinson’s Foundation

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