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Advice For Parkinson’s Patients

Suggest They Join A Support Group

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

A Parkinsons support group will allow your loved one to share their thoughts and feelings with others who are experiencing the same thing. This may help reduce loneliness and isolation.

Your loved one may learn about treatment options and resources that have helped others in the group, and make new friends in the process. Support groups also usually welcome the families and friends of people with Parkinsons.

Cognition & Parkinsons Disease

Can medicines for sleep, such as clonazepam and/or mirtazapine impede cognition?

In general, any medication that induces sleep can also dull a person more generally and make him/her less sharp. At some point, you need to weigh the benefits of improved sleep with the potential side effects of the medication during the day. Dr. Gilbert

No two days are alike with my husband. There are days when he retreats into himself and becomes unresponsive, and the next day he is alert and able to function. Has anyone else experienced this?

PD can be variable. Try to enjoy the alert days to the fullest! Alice

What is the best therapeutic help for cognitive challenges in YOPD?

I have executive function issues myself. Setting up systems of operation that can be reinforced through repetition is helpful. Pam

You can read more about Parkinsons disease and mild cognitive impairment in our fact sheet. Dr. Gilbert

If youd like to learn more about YOPD, you might benefit from watching Dr. Gilbert Hosts: Life With Young Onset Parkinsons Disease.

Parkinsons Home Exercise Program

You dont need to join a gym or purchase expensive fitness equipment to stay active with Parkinsons disease. On the contrary, there are many great exercises that you can do from the comfort of your home, regardless of which stage of the disease you are in. Take a look at some great examples in the sections below.

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Symptoms Of Parkinson’s Disease

The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease usually develop gradually and are mild at first.

There are many different symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease. Some of the more common symptoms are described below.

However, the order in which these develop and their severity is different for each individual. It’s unlikely that a person with Parkinson’s disease would experience all or most of these.

Diagnosis Of Parkinsons Disease

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There are currently no blood or laboratory tests to diagnose non-genetic cases of Parkinsons. Doctors usually diagnose the disease by taking a persons medical history and performing a neurological examination. If symptoms improve after starting to take medication, its another indicator that the person has Parkinsons.

A number of disorders can cause symptoms similar to those of Parkinsons disease. People with Parkinsons-like symptoms that result from other causes, such as multiple system atrophy and dementia with Lewy bodies, are sometimes said to have parkinsonism. While these disorders initially may be misdiagnosed as Parkinsons, certain medical tests, as well as response to drug treatment, may help to better evaluate the cause. Many other diseases have similar features but require different treatments, so it is important to get an accurate diagnosis as soon as possible.

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What Is A Good Breakfast For Parkinsons Patients

Essie French | Answered June 29, 2021

Oatmeal. Oatmeal is high in fiber, which is perfect for seniors with Parkinsons disease, because it can combat constipation, a common Parkinsons symptom. Combining high-fiber foods with six to eight glasses of water a day goes a long way toward keeping bowel movements regular.Jan 18, 2019

Prevalence Predictors Of Anxiety In Parkinsons

Researchers at the University of Virginia investigated the prevalence and predictors of anxiety symptoms in Parkinsons patients over three years.

A total of 105 participants with Parkinsons, but without a clinical diagnosis of dementia, were recruited from the universitys outpatient movement disorders clinic starting in March 2013, with evaluations lasting until September 2019. The patients had been living with the disease for a median of just under five years.

Patients completed a baseline visit at the studys start and up to three follow-ups, each about a year apart. At each visit, they completed assessments that covered motor, psychiatric and cognitive symptoms.

Anxiety symptoms, assessed by the Beck Anxiety Inventory questionnaire, were the primary outcome of interest. A higher BAI score generally reflects greater anxiety, with a score of 12 or more indicating a clinical anxiety disorder in Parkinsons.

At baseline, the mean BAI score was 10.8, below the cutoff for anxiety. A total of 40 patients met the criteria for an anxiety disorder at that time. The mean BAI score increased each year, reaching a mean of 13.64 among the 67 patients who completed the three-year follow-up. Overall, 60 met the criteria for an anxiety disorder at some point.

Indicators of RBD and dysautonomia were significant independent predictors of anxiety over time in final statistical analyses. Both have been linked to anxiety in Parkinsons previously, the researchers said.

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Living Well With Parkinson’s

While medication and DBS surgery are the most effective treatments for PD, individuals often choose to delay these treatments because of their adverse side effects. Until a therapy is developed that can halt the progression of PD, there is a significant need for strategies that provide symptom relief without causing negative side effects.

Diet, Exercise, and Stress Reduction

Findings from several studies suggest that exercise has the potential to provide relief from certain PD symptoms. Anecdotally, people with Parkinsons disease who exercise typically do better. However, many questions remain. Among them is whether exercise provides a conditioning effect by strengthening muscles and improving flexibility or whether it has a direct effect on the brain.

In an NINDS-funded trial comparing the benefits of tai chi, resistance training, and stretching, tai chi was found to reduce balance impairments in people with mild-to-moderate PD. People in the tai chi group also experienced significantly fewer falls and greater improvements in their functional capacity.

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Tips For Yourself As A Caregiver

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While caring for someone with Parkinsons disease, its also important to care for yourself. These are some tips that can be helpful:

  • Allow yourself time to process your emotions: Your loved one may not be the only person struggling to accept their diagnosis and prognosis. You may feel like youre in an alternate reality, where your whole world has turned upside down. Take the time you need to process your emotions so that you can stabilize yourself and be a source of support for them.
  • Set realistic goals:Caregiving can be stressful and take a lot of work. It can be helpful to set realistic goals for yourself and determine your limits.
  • Forgive imperfections: There may be times when youre unable to do everything you planned to or as well as you hoped to. Be kind to yourself accept that youre human and everything may not always be perfect.
  • Explore community resources: It can be helpful to locate medical services, support groups, and other community services for your loved one as well as yourself in advance before you need them.

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What Causes Parkinsons Disease

The most prominent signs and symptoms of Parkinsons disease occur when nerve cells in the basal ganglia, an area of the brain that controls movement, become impaired and/or die. Normally, these nerve cells, or neurons, produce an important brain chemical known as dopamine. When the neurons die or become impaired, they produce less dopamine, which causes the movement problems associated with the disease. Scientists still do not know what causes the neurons to die.

People with Parkinsons disease also lose the nerve endings that produce norepinephrine, the main chemical messenger of the sympathetic nervous system, which controls many functions of the body, such as heart rate and blood pressure. The loss of norepinephrine might help explain some of the non-movement features of Parkinsons, such as fatigue, irregular blood pressure, decreased movement of food through the digestive tract, and sudden drop in blood pressure when a person stands up from a sitting or lying position.

Many brain cells of people with Parkinsons disease contain Lewy bodies, unusual clumps of the protein alpha-synuclein. Scientists are trying to better understand the normal and abnormal functions of alpha-synuclein and its relationship to genetic mutations that impact Parkinsons andLewy body dementia.

How Do We Find The Right Nursing Home Facility

Finding the right nursing home takes time. It is important to begin the search for a suitable nursing home well before you will need to take the step of moving. There are often long waiting periods. Planning ahead can also make the transition of moving into a nursing home much easier.

Family and caregivers should talk about what services will be needed. Take time to consider what services are important to you before calling different nursing homes. Think about what kind of help is needed and how often its needed.

Before scheduling a visit to the nursing homes you are interested in, ask about vacancies, admission requirements, level of care provided, and participation in government-funded health insurance options.

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How Does This Condition Affect My Body

Parkinsons disease causes a specific area of your brain, the basal ganglia, to deteriorate. As this area deteriorates, you lose the abilities those areas once controlled. Researchers have uncovered that Parkinsons disease causes a major shift in your brain chemistry.

Under normal circumstances, your brain uses chemicals known as neurotransmitters to control how your brain cells communicate with each other. When you have Parkinsons disease, you dont have enough dopamine, one of the most important neurotransmitters.

When your brain sends activation signals that tell your muscles to move, it fine-tunes your movements using cells that require dopamine. Thats why lack of dopamine causes the slowed movements and tremors symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

As Parkinson’s disease progresses, the symptoms expand and intensify. Later stages of the disease often affect how your brain functions, causing dementia-like symptoms and depression.

Assessment Of Gait Parameters

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Stride time , percentage of double stance time , stride length and the coefficient of stride length were assessed at different walking speeds on a motorized medical treadmill ergometer. There is sufficient evidence that gait variability is increased in basal ganglia disorders . Furthermore, increased stride-to-stride variability might reflect a failure of automatic stepping mechanisms . Increased gait variability can be seen throughout the course of Parkinsons disease and has been found to be one aspect of walking, closely associated with risk of falls in the elderly .

For better comparison of the training effects patients walked at 6 different walking speeds prior and after the training period. The treadmill was equipped with force platforms, that allowed an accurate determination of foot-ground contact. Patients were not allowed to use the handrails of the treadmill for support.

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Caregiving & Helping Others

Parkinsons disease can be emotionally difficult for caregivers, but it also has its rewards.

Here are some strategies that can be helpful while caring for a person with Parkinsons disease:

According to a 2018 study, the cognitive symptoms of Parkinsons disease had a greater emotional impact on loved ones and caregivers than the physical symptoms. As the dementia progresses, carers may experience a sense of grief and loss, as they feel their loved ones are not themselves anymore.

Simplifying Activities Of Daily Living For Parkinsons Patients

Many aspects of daily life that we take for granted become increasingly difficult for someone who is living with Parkinsons. Movement symptoms like weakness, tremor, rigidity, balance problems and bradykinesia become especially pronounced in the middle and later stages of the disease. Medications used to treat PD, such as carbidopa-levodopa, dopamine agonists, MAO B inhibitors and anticholinergics, can also have bothersome side effects like dyskinesia , lightheadedness, drowsiness, hallucinations and confusion that interfere with daily routines. Fortunately, there are assistive devices and adaptations that can help patients maintain their quality of life and make caring for someone with Parkinsons easier for family caregivers.

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When Should I See My Healthcare Provider Or When Should I Seek Care

You should see your healthcare provider as recommended, or if you notice changes in your symptoms or the effectiveness of your medication. Adjustments to medications and dosages can make a huge difference in how Parkinsons affects your life.

When should I go to ER?

Your healthcare provider can give you guidance and information on signs or symptoms that mean you should go to the hospital or seek medical care. In general, you should seek care if you fall, especially when you lose consciousness or might have an injury to your head, neck, chest, back or abdomen.

If I Exercise Will I Still Need My Parkinsons Medications

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Some people find that exercise helps them reduce the doses of Parkinsons medications over time. But exercise is not a replacement for your medications. In fact, some people need more medications so they can stay active. Dont make changes to your medications without talking to your healthcare providers.

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Planning For Cognitive Changes For A Parkinsons Patient

1- Watch for Hallucinations

Hallucinations become common in severe stages of Parkinsons and are usually caused by an increased dopamine level which is not good for their mobility problems.

  • Book an appointment with a neurologist.
  • Try to minimize this psychotic symptom as early as possible.

2- Cognitive changes and Parkinsons

In the middle to last stages, Parkinsons causes changes in behavior and cognitive decline in your loved ones, and it can adversely affect their mobility.

  • Consult with a speech therapist if your loved one finds difficulty in communication 90% of Parkinsons patients have a progressive motor speech disorder.
  • Be flexible and understand their condition patiently, help them in multi-tasking, problem-solving, and planning.
  • Give them more time to respond and encourage open communications.

3- Managing Sleep with Parkinsons

Planning for REM sleep for a Parkinsons patient is critical to slowing cognitive declines. Parkinsons creates many challenges to getting rest and a good nights sleep, both for the patient and the caregiver this is triggered due to limited mobility, the effect of meds causing bad dreams or hallucinations, and frequent nighttime visits to the bathroom due to limited bladder control. Here are a few tips:


  • Massage therapy

by RMIT University

IEEE Access

A new screening test app could help advance the early detection of Parkinsons disease and severe COVID-19, improving the management of these illnesses.

What Are The Symptoms Of Parkinson’s Disease

The main symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are:

  • tremor or shaking, often when resting or tired. It usually begins in one arm or hand
  • muscle rigidity or stiffness, which can limit movement and may be painful
  • slowing of movement, which may lead to periods of freezing and small shuffling steps
  • stooped posture and balance problems

The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease vary from person to person as well as over time. Some people also experience:

  • loss of unconscious movements, such as blinking and smiling
  • difficulties with handwriting
  • drop in blood pressure leading to dizziness
  • difficulty swallowing

Many of the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease could be caused by other conditions. For example, stooped posture could be caused by osteoporosis. But if you are worried by your symptoms, it is a good idea to see your doctor.

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Options For Parkinsons Disease Care

These burdens can ultimately lead a family caregiver to explore alternatives for Parkinsons disease care. Eventually, many decide to place their loved ones in long-term care facilities, such as assisted living or a nursing home.

Assisted living residents usually receive help with daily tasks, meal preparation, medication management, and escorts to doctors appointments. A nurse is onsite 24/7 and apartments are equipped with emergency call buttons so residents can summon help when necessary.

However, assisted living facilities generally arent equipped to care for people with severe mobility problems or advanced dementia. As a result, your loved one will likely be transferred to a skilled nursing facility once they reach the advanced stages of Parkinsons disease. Unfortunately, the expense of assisted living could quickly deplete their financial resources, limiting your choice of facilities to Medicaid nursing homes.

Nursing homes have their own issues. Even the best facilities tend to be understaffed, and few can provide the level of one-on-one care most people desire for their loved ones. Residents will be competing with each other for staff members limited attention, and those with advanced Parkinsons disease may not be able to communicate in a way that ensures their needs are met. These same issues may also make Parkinsons disease patients more vulnerable to physical or sexual abuse.

Strengthening Exercises Or Stretching May Be Helpful

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Imagine that the spine is like a telephone pole or the mast of a sailboat. If the pole is not exactly upright, even a slight tilt requires a great force to keep it from tilting further and falling. In the human body, this means that the lower back muscles are under great stress. It also means that the tension on the back bones is much increased as well. This worsens whatever problems, like arthritis, that are already present. The same process applies to the neck, although the forces are less great. Strengthening exercises or stretching may be helpful. Almost everyone over the age of 60 has arthritis in their spine. Luckily most dont have pain from it, but those who do will have it worsened by the spine curvature caused by the PD.

PD patients also frequently have an aching discomfort in their muscles, particularly in the thighs and shoulders. I think this is due to the rigidity, or stiffness, that is part of the Parkinsons Disease syndrome, but Ive seen many patients with this pain and no apparent stiffness on examination, hence not explained. It is common and it often, but not always, responds to alterations of the usual Parkinsons Disease medications for movement. Exercise and stretching may be helpful as well and should always be tried first before increasing medications.

Pain is a challenge in PD. We cant measure it and often cannot find its cause. It is, however, often treatable, and reducing pain improves quality of life.

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