What Is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder which involves a break down of nerve cells in the brain affecting movement, cognition, and the central nervous system.
How Does Parkinson’s Impact The Brain And Body?
The primary area of the brain affected by Parkinson’s is called the basal ganglia which is responsible for movement and motor control. This results in the body making movements on its own without the need for a command from the brain.
Whenever we want to make a movement, a signal or message is sent from the basal ganglia in the brain to different parts of the brain in order to carry out that particular function. The progressive nature of Parkinson’s means that the brain cells responsible for generating these messages are gradually being destroyed.
These messages are ordinarily passed along using a chemical neurotransmitter called dopamine. When the cells that produce dopamine become damaged, the capacity for communication deteriorates and important messages become lost and impossible to deliver.
Recognizing Signs And Symptoms Early For Effective Parkinson’s Management
As is typically the case with progressive disorders, the earlier the issue is detected and diagnosed it helps minimize damage and optimize management options.
Some of the most common symptoms associated with Parkinson’s include:
- Tremors – the most prevalent symptom of Parkinson’s characterized by involuntary shakes and quivers generally occurring when the body is in a state of rest
- Bradykinesia – another predominant symptom marked by slowness of movement which may manifest as dragging of feet or taking a long time to complete a simple task
- Impaired balance and coordination – can compromise independence and increase the risk of falls
- Affected speech – slurred or slowed speech makes communication more challenging
- Contracture – muscles and joints become more rigid limiting range of motion and flexibility
Parkinson’s Care Tips For Senior Caregivers
Although there is no cure for Parkinson’s there are several recommended practices that can help maximize the potential for independence.
The first step towards effective treatment or management of any illness is to learn all you can about it. Knowing how the disease works and the effects it has on the human system helps determine the best way to provide the right assistance and support. Being aware that the abilities of a person with Parkinson’s may fluctuate significantly day to day is crucial. Preserving independence means letting them do what they can on their own for as long as they can manage.
Flexibility And Patience
Since symptoms and abilities will vary considerably on a daily basis, patience is critical for successful disease management. Also, since slow movements are often a component of Parkinson’s it is necessary to allow ample time to complete any given task. Becoming frustrated and trying to rush the process along is not helpful and will likely result in the individual with Parkinson’s just giving up and throwing in the towel.
Home Care Assistance
Caring for a loved one with Parkinson’s can become overwhelming without the necessary support and assistance. Home caregivers can be a huge help in sharing the burden of Parkinson’s management.
Home caregivers can help with:
- Bathing and dressing
- Meal planning and prep
- Errands and groceries
- Light housekeeping
- Physical therapy exercises
- Falls prevention
- Safety and stability tools like grab bars and railings
- Medication management
- Mobility and transportation
- Ongoing support and assistance whenever it may be needed