Managing Parkinson’s: The Disease and Symptoms
Oct 30, 2019 by Stephanie Howe - Owner, Comfort Keepers
Parkinson's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that currently affects at least 500,000 people in the United States. It is the second most common neurodegenerative disease in the U.S. after Alzheimer's disease. Parkinson's disease typically starts showing symptoms after age 60, and the number of people affected by Parkinson's is increasing as the population ages.
Known to some as just Parkinson or Parkinson disease, it can significantly impact people's quality of life and make daily living a chore that gets more difficult with age.
Some symptoms of Parkinson's include
- Stiff Limbs
- Balance problems
- Cognitive impairment
- Mood disorders (Non-Motor Symptoms)
- Short steps and slowed movement (bradykinesia)
- Speech and writing changes
- Head bobbing (dyskinesia)
- Fidgeting (dyskinesia)
- Swaying (dyskinesia)
According to WebMD, tremors and stiff limbs may be familiar symptoms for those with Parkinson's disease. Other movements that can't be controled like swaying, and head bobbing or fidgeting. These symptoms are signs of dyskinesia. Dyskinesia often happens as a side effect to a Parkinson's drug levodopa which is used as a treatment option for Parkinson's disease patients.
There are also support groups across the country.
The American Parkinson Disease Association (APDA) is a grassroots advocacy organization that since 1961 has been working from their New York location to provide information about the multitudes of services available to those that have Parkinson's disease.
The National Institute of Environmental Health Science has a Parkinson's disease program that provides grants and other support. Scientists are investigating how diet, exercise, pesticides, and other environmental factors might increase or decrease a person's risk of developing Parkinson's disease.
Movement disorder specialists report that the disease can manifest in many ways with motor fluctuations.
Non-Motor Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease
Weakening sense of smell and taste.
Sleep disorders. This includes insomnia, excessive daytime sleepiness, vivid dreams, to name a few.
Mood disorders. This includes irritability, impulsive behaviors, anxiety, and depression.
Seniors, loved ones and family members struggle to deal with understanding Parkinson's, the side effects of all of the available Parkinson's disease drugs and the various therapies used in daily life for the treatment of Parkinson's which can be exhausting to someone suffering from the disease and for their family members.
Some Treatments and Therapies
There are ways to control the side effects of dyskinesia, well being, and for managing Parkinson's disease. Get medical advice from your neurologist, physical therapist, occupational therapist, or other trusted healthcare professional.
COMT is an enzyme that metabolizes or degrades neurotransmitters such as dopamine, and COMT is another tool used to ward off the potential side effects of Parkinson's disease drugs.
According to Parkinson.org, MAO-B inhibitors can be used to treat the symptoms of Parkinson's. They reportedly prevent the breakdown of the chemical messenger dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a chemical messenger made in the brain. The symptoms of Parkinson's appear when your dopamine levels become too low. Additionally, a class of drugs known as Dopamine Agonists is another treatment option for the symptoms of Parkinson's disease.
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is another treatment for symptoms of Parkinson's disease, including tremors, stiffness, and trouble walking. It can also treat the side effects of Parkinson's medicines. DBS isn't a cure for Parkinson's and won't stop it from getting worse.
There are also support groups that can be found across the country that help deal with the management of Parkinson's disease. The American Parkinson Disease Association (APDA) is a grassroots organization that since 1961 has been working from their New York location to provide information about the multitudes of services available to those that suffer from Parkinson's disease.
While there is no known cure for Parkinson's, taking steps to manage the disease can increase a senior's quality of life and help to reduce the impact of symptoms.
Those that have been diagnosed with Parkinson's should discuss management strategies with a healthcare professional. There are a variety of medications, like anticholinergic drugs and physical therapies, that a doctor can recommend.
Managing Parkinson's disease symptom and everyday strategies
Finding ways to relieve stress: There is ample evidence that stress can make symptoms worse. However, they usually return to normal levels once the cause of stress is removed. Activities that can help reduce stress include meditation, yoga, deep breathing, getting outside, spending time with loved ones, participating in hobbies or exercise, and physical activity approved by a physician.
Maintaining a good diet: For those with Parkinson's, proper nutrition will not only help manage symptoms but can help slow the progression of the disease in some seniors. In addition to healthy, nutritious food, it's essential to prevent dehydration too.
Adapting your home: Depending on the Parkinson's symptoms that someone is experiencing, there are a variety of ways to improve everyday life with a few adjustments to living space. For those with trouble walking, or those that need a wheelchair, wide walkways help manage mobility. Mattresses with adjustable features can be helpful for anyone with difficulty getting in and out of bed, and grab bars may be useful for those with balance issues.
Preventing falls: Having trouble walking is a common Parkinson's disease symptom. Minimizing fall risk is a crucial safety management strategy that is easy to execute. Wearing proper footwear, making sure rooms are adequately lit, and removing trip hazards can all help reduce the risk of falls.
Getting help: Having a professional Caregiver, care team, or family member in place assisting your loved one with their daily tasks can further reduce their stress, improve mental health, and relief the worry by family members.
Comfort Keepers® Can Help
The well trained and versatile Toms River's Comfort Keepers can also help with mobility, improve home safety, provide transportation to appointments, events, errands, and shopping can help seniors aging at home maintain positive mental health. Our caregivers remind seniors when it is time to take medications, can read labels and instructions to your loved one.
For those who need help living and coping in their homes, in-home caregivers like the professional caregivers at Toms River Comfort Keepers can help with stress management, monitor, and control physician-approved diet and exercise plans. Call the Toms River Comfort Keepers at (732) 557-0010 for an assessment of your loved one's needs and how we may help.