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What is Parkinson’s disease, and how can I care for someone with the condition?

What is Parkinson’s disease?

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological condition. This means that it causes problems in the brain and gets worse over time. The condition develops when cells in the brain stop working properly and are lost over time. These brain cells produce a chemical called dopamine. Symptoms start to appear when the brain cannot make enough dopamine to control movement properly.

What are the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease?

There are three main symptoms of Parkinson’s disease:

  • Tremor (shaking)
  • Slowness of movement (bradykinesia)
  • Rigidity (muscle stiffness)

Other symptoms include difficulty turning over in bed, fatigue, reduced sense of smell, depression, anxiety, tiredness, disturbed sleep, constipation, and a tendency to have small handwriting.

How is Parkinson’s disease diagnosed?

If you suspect you may have Parkinson’s disease, you should make an appointment to see your GP. Your GP will refer you to a specialist if they think you may have the condition.

You may want to keep a diary to help you explain your symptoms to the specialist. It may also be a good idea to make a list of any questions you want to ask. It can be helpful to take someone with you to your appointment for support.

There is no definitive test for Parkinson’s disease. Your specialist will take a detailed medical history, and they will examine you to look for common signs of the condition. This will include checking your walk, speech, face and limbs to check for symptoms. You may also be asked to write or draw. Your specialist will check that the symptoms do not have a cause other than Parkinson’s disease.

What treatments can help Parkinson’s disease?

If you have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, you will be offered a variety of treatments to manage your symptoms. The three main treatments to help you manage your Parkinson’s disease are:

  • Medication
  • Exercise
  • Therapies

Each person has a unique experience of living with Parkinson’s disease so your specialist will find the right combination of treatments for you.

Medication

There are a range of medications that can improve your symptoms, and your specialist will prescribe the one that is right for you. Some of these medications do have side effects, but your specialist will talk you through these.

Exercise

Recent research has suggested that exercise can be as important as medication in managing the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Increasing exercise to 2.5 hours per week can make a significant difference.

Some patients may be put off trying exercise because of the physical symptoms of the condition such as slow movement, rigidity, pain, anxiety and fatigue. However, it is worth persevering as exercise can make such a big impact on wellbeing, as well as a slowing the progression of the symptoms.

Exercise can also improve other issues such as poor sleep, mood problems and constipation.

You may want to talk to your GP, specialist or physiotherapist to find out what kind of exercise plan would be best for you. However, ultimately the right exercise is whatever eases your symptoms and makes you feel better.

Therapies

As well as taking medication and exercising, there are specific therapies that can help people living with Parkinson’s disease. These include:

1.       Physiotherapy

Physiotherapy can help people if they are having trouble with everyday movement such as walking or getting out of bed. Physiotherapists can also advise on what kinds of exercises can be helpful in managing the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

2.       Speech and Language Therapy

A speech and language therapist will help you to express yourself clearly so you can be understood by those around you. Speech and language therapists can also help with the physical difficulties around eating and drinking, such as difficulty swallowing.

3.       Occupational therapy

An occupational therapist can provide invaluable help with managing everyday tasks. Your occupational therapist will work with you to develop techniques and strategies to help with tasks you find difficult. He or she will also be able to advise on equipment and technologies that may be useful.

Your GP or specialist will be able to refer you for the above therapies.

Keeping well with Parkinson’s disease

As well as the above treatments, there are general lifestyle changes that can help with Parkinson’s disease. This includes eating a healthy diet that is full of plant-based foods and high in antioxidants. It is also important to stay hydrated.

In addition, you should get outside as much as possible to get some fresh air and sunshine. Being outside allows your body to make vitamin D from sunlight.

How to care for someone with Parkinson’s disease

If you are caring for someone with Parkinson’s disease, you may be wondering what to do to help. Of course, this depends on the person you are caring for and what stage of the disease they are at.

For example, a person recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease may not need much practical help but might find it beneficial to talk over the implications of their diagnosis and how they are feeling. You may be able to support the person you care for by helping and encouraging them to undertake the activities that help them to manage symptoms, such as exercising and eating well.

As Parkinson’s disease develops, the person you care for may begin to rely on you for practical help with everyday tasks. Mumby’s can offer support to care for your loved ones in their own home if needed.

How Mumby’s Homecare Support can help?

At Mumby’s, we provide outstanding live-in care for the elderly, with a particular focus on the specialist support required for conditions such as Parkinson’s disease.

Our professional and friendly staff are trained in the practical support of your loved ones with these Parkinson’s disease so that they can stay in the comfort and familiarity of their own homes and neighbourhood.

Our carers provide help around the home as well as personal care. They can cook nutritious meals for your loved one, encourage exercise, and offer companionship and emotional support. Our carers can also help your loved one with their personal care needs, such as toileting and bathing.

If you need help supporting a loved one, please contact us, speak to a member of our team today on freephone 0800 505 3511 or email info@mumbys.com to find out how we can assist you with your homecare needs.

References

https://www.parkinsons.org.uk/information-and-support/what-parkinsons

By |2020-10-15T14:25:56+00:00October 14th, 2020|Live-in care, News and Views|1 Comment

About the Author:

Joel Mumby
Joel joined the company in 2012 and is responsible for the day to day running of the business aided by his team of six office support staff.

One Comment

  1. Joel Mumby
    Joel Mumby October 15, 2020 at 2:26 pm

    Really great information in the blog.

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