Public Transport Concessions And Assistance Schemes
If you use public transport, you may be entitled to concessions and assistance where you live. Examples include local taxi schemes and rail/bus cards. Many rail companies, airports and airlines provide support to help passengers with disabilities but this usually need to be booked in advance. Your local Parkinsons group or disability organisation will be able to provide information on services available in your area.
See our Travel section for tips on using public transport if you decide not to drive on occasions.
How Is Parkinson’s Disease Diagnosed
There is no test that can prove that you have PD. The diagnosis is based on you having the typical symptoms . In the early stage of the disease, when symptoms are mild, it may be difficult for a doctor to say if you definitely have PD. As the symptoms gradually become worse, the diagnosis often becomes more clear.
PD is sometimes confused with other conditions. Some conditions can give ‘Parkinsonism’ features – that is, symptoms similar to PD but caused by other conditions. For example, some medicines used to treat other conditions can cause side-effects which resemble symptoms of PD. Some rare brain disorders can also cause similar symptoms.
Therefore, it is normal practice in the UK to be referred to a specialist if PD is suspected. The specialist will be used to diagnosing PD and ruling out other causes of the symptoms. They will usually be either a neurologist or a doctor specialising in elderly care. If there is still doubt about the diagnosis, sometimes a scan of the brain is carried out. This helps to differentiate PD from some other conditions that can cause Parkinsonism features. Other tests sometimes needed include blood tests and tests of your sense of smell.
Legal Obligations Insurance And Tax
Your legal obligations will depend on the laws of the country in which you live. In many countries, your doctor will be obliged to carry out a regular ‘fit to drive’ check.
The most common heath-related driving laws in European countries are outlined below but you should always check on current legislation with your doctor or a suitably qualified member of your healthcare team.
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How Can I Talk To A Loved One About The Progression Of Their Driving
The ability to drive is an important component of self-esteem and independence for many.
Your loved one may therefore get very emotional once approached about the progression of their driving. You can first acknowledge their good behaviours and then share your concerns without making them feel guilty.
You and your loved one can determine a transitioning schedule together based on the appearance of warning signs indicating that they should stop driving.
If your loved one shows resistance, talk about potential risks for them and others if they continue driving unsafely. Finally, talk about it with their care team to get help.
With time, you may no longer be able to drive. You can use alternative means of transportation such as:
Does Parkinson’s Disease Cause Dementia
The cells in the brain affected in PD are not in the ‘thinking’ parts of the brain and dementia is not a typical early feature of PD. However, if you have PD you have an increased risk of developing dementia. About half of people with PD develop dementia at some stage. If dementia occurs, it tends to develop in older people with PD . Early dementia in younger people with PD virtually never develops. It is thought that PD alone does not cause dementia however, other age-related factors in addition to PD may increase the risk of dementia developing.
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How Is Parkinsons Disease Treated
There is no cure for Parkinsons disease. However, medications and other treatments can help relieve some of your symptoms. Exercise can help your Parkinsons symptoms significantly. In addition, physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech-language therapy can help with walking and balance problems, eating and swallowing challenges and speech problems. Surgery is an option for some patients.
Enjoy A Healthy Sex Life:
We have no particular reason to say that sexual ability goes down with Parkinsons disease, says Rosenthal. There are certainly challenges, but rest assured that a satisfying sex life is not something you have to put behind you after a diagnosis. Treatments for erectile dysfunction can work for Parkinsons patients, just as they do for non-Parkinsons patients. Problems that crop up run the gamut: Men may experience sexual problems, like erectile dysfunction, and men and women may have problems with decreased libido. Physical symptoms of the disease, such as stiffness and tremor, may make moving around in bed more challenging. But you can help some of these problems enormously through good self-care. For example, getting enough sleep and exercise can boost sex drive.
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How Can I Help Myself
To accommodate life with Parkinsons you may need either to change the type of car you drive or to make adaptations to your existing vehicle. Investigate all available options and follow up those that are practical and will help overcome any difficulties, bearing in mind that symptoms are likely to progress. Examples include:
- cars that are easier to drive and have been designed to suit people with disabilities
- cars that provide more space so that you can manoeuvre yourself in and out more easily
- power steering
- an automatic gearbox
- other automatic functions, e.g. electric windows and windscreen wipers that are activated when it rains
- swivel seats or sitting on a sheet of plastic to make it easier to get in and out of your car seat
- door handles that are simple to open
- hand controls or aids to make steering, braking or acceleration.
Always take a mobile phone with you when you drive, so you can call for assistance if you get into difficulties or have an accident.
What Are The Surgical Treatments For Parkinsons Disease
Most patients with Parkinsons disease can maintain a good quality of life with medications. However, as the disease worsens, medications may no longer be effective in some patients. In these patients, the effectiveness of medications becomes unpredictable reducing symptoms during on periods and no longer controlling symptoms during off periods, which usually occur when the medication is wearing off and just before the next dose is to be taken. Sometimes these variations can be managed with changes in medications. However, sometimes they cant. Based on the type and severity of your symptoms, the failure of adjustments in your medications, the decline in your quality of life and your overall health, your doctor may discuss some of the available surgical options.
Newly Diagnosed With Parkinsons: Blakes Story
I went to my doctor and I was shaking. He said, you need to see a neurologist. So, I got an appointment with a neurologist and he told me I had Parkinsons disease.
At first, I thought that cant happen to me. It happens to other people. Thats how I spent the first few years, in denial.
Then, I started living a more active lifestyle and exercising. I also started reaching out to others. Sharing and talking with other people that were going through what I was helped. I reached out to Parkinson Canada and registered for Parkinson Canada SuperWalk. I posted on my Facebook asking for donations and told people about my diagnosis. Participating, and sharing, became part of my healing.
What Is Parkinsons Disease
Parkinsons disease is a progressive brain disorder that affects mobility and mental ability. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Parkinsons, you may be wondering about life expectancy.
According to some research, on average, people with Parkinsons can expect to live almost as long as those who dont have the condition.
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Parkinsons Disease Medication And Alcohol
Little is known about the effects of alcohol on Parkinson’s disease itself. However, most doctors will tell you to avoid alcohol if you’re taking medications for PD. Here, we’ll look at some of the most common Parkinson’s disease medications and their interactions with alcohol.
Many Parkinsons disease medications contain levodopa, also known as L-dopa. Levodopa is essentially a chemical building block that your body converts into dopamine to control the symptoms of Parkinsons disease. Alcohol can increase the nervous system effects of levodopa such as drowsiness, dizziness and thinking impairment. Therefore, most guidelines state that you should avoid or limit alcohol consumption when taking this drug.
Dopamine agonists are often used to treat Parkinsons disease in place of levodopa. They can cause significant side-effects such as hallucinations, euphoria, psychosis and compulsive behavior. However, they do have the advantage of causing fewer long-term motor symptoms than other PD medications. Dopamine agonists are administered in small doses at first to check how you respond. Therefore a glass of wine is unlikely to affect you much. However, you should always consult your doctor before drinking alcohol with this medication.
You Are Not Giving Up
Giving up your driver’s license does not mean giving up! Foregoing the use of your automobile may save your life or the life of someone you love. You can still ride a bike or a three-wheeler, walk, or even use a Segway. Be sure to contact local support groups to see if any ride programs are available in your area. Talk with local government agencies, hospitals, doctors offices, and social agencies or agencies on aging. You may want to collaborate with others in the same situation to create a car-pooling and ride share program of your own.
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Driving A Vehicle Safely
Being able to drive a vehicle requires high levels of skill and ability. A driver either needs to be unaffected by a medical condition, or have a medical condition that is controlled so that symptoms are highly unlikely to cause any problems.
Sadly, Parkinsons is a progressive condition and deterioration is inevitable. Itll affect many activities, including driving. This is why it is so important that all drivers who are diagnosed with Parkinsons must tell DVLA. The rate of deterioration varies, but recognising that it will happen is important. It allows the patient and their family time to make plans for any lifestyle changes that may be necessary.
Knowing you will eventually lose the ability to drive is never easy to accept. But it may be more bearable if the person has time to adjust and plan alternative ways of travel. For example: public transport, taxis, or lifts from friends and relatives.
For professional drivers, who must demonstrate a greater level of fitness to drive, it may involve reviewing work options for the future.
Is Parkinsons Disease Inherited
Scientists have discovered gene mutations that are associated with Parkinsons disease.
There is some belief that some cases of early-onset Parkinsons disease disease starting before age 50 may be inherited. Scientists identified a gene mutation in people with Parkinsons disease whose brains contain Lewy bodies, which are clumps of the protein alpha-synuclein. Scientists are trying to understand the function of this protein and its relationship to genetic mutations that are sometimes seen in Parkinsons disease and in people with a type of dementia called Lewy body dementia.
Several other gene mutations have been found to play a role in Parkinsons disease. Mutations in these genes cause abnormal cell functioning, which affects the nerve cells ability to release dopamine and causes nerve cell death. Researchers are still trying to discover what causes these genes to mutate in order to understand how gene mutations influence the development of Parkinsons disease.
Scientists think that about 10% to 15% of persons with Parkinsons disease may have a genetic mutation that predisposes them to development of the disease. There are also environmental factors involved that are not fully understood.
Exercise And Healthy Eating
Regular exercise is particularly important in helping relieve muscle stiffness, improving your mood and relieving stress.
You should also try to eat a balanced diet containing all the food groups to give your body the nutrition it needs to stay healthy.
How To Ease The Transition
Frank discussions with family members and doctors are often enough to convince people with Parkinsonâs disease to modify their driving. Some people may need additional input from a support group, lawyer, or financial planner to ease the transition.
Some people with Parkinson’s disease can continue driving under strict guidelines, although the long-term goal will still be to eventually stop driving. Guidelines for limited driving may include:
- Drive only on familiar roads
- Limit drives to short trips
- Avoid rush-hour traffic and heavily traveled roads
- Restrict drives to daylight hours during good weather
Itâs important for family and friends to find ways to help their loved one reduce their need to drive. These include arranging for groceries, meals, and prescriptions to be delivered to the home, or for barbers or hairdressers to come to the home.
Itâs also important to help your loved one become accustomed to using alternate methods of transportation, such as:
- Rides from family and friends
- Taxi cabs
- Public buses, trains, and subways
Your local Area Agency on Aging can help you find transportation services for a loved one. Eldercare Locator, a service of the U.S. Administration on Aging, can also assist. Its phone number is 800-677-1116,
If your loved one refuses to voluntarily limit or stop driving, despite a demonstrated need to do so, you may need to take more aggressive steps, such as:
- Hiding the car keys
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How Does A Person Know When They Should Reconsider Driving
A good indicator of when it may be time to consider driving retirement is when there are notable difficulties and/or changes in any of the symptoms we mentioned above. Since many times it is difficult for someone to notice a decline in function in themselves, it is usually a family member, close friend, or physician who will notice significant changes in function. It is the physician who will recommend driving retirement or make a referral to a specialist who can perform a comprehensive driving evaluation. Since driving requires a combination of visual skills, motor skills and cognitive skills, it is important to monitor how all of these areas change when someone is diagnosed with a neurodegenerative disease like PD. If someone notices a significant change in function that might affect the ability to drive safely, this should be talked about with a doctor.
Another very important indicator of whether a person should be driving, is how well the person is currently driving. For example, have there been recent accidents or traffic tickets, small scrapes on the car, potentially dangerous actions observed by passengers in the car, or getting lost while driving, etc? Again, in such cases a doctor may recommend driving retirement or a comprehensive driving evaluation.
Do I Have To Inform The Saaq Of My Parkinsons Diagnosis
The law requires you to inform the SAAQ of changes in your medical condition within 30 days of your visit to your neurologist.
Your doctor or a health care professional, such as an occupational therapist, will need to assess your ability to drive and fill out a medical examination report that you will need to send to the SAAQ.
Rest assured, very few drivers have their licence revoked after a medical assessment.
This evaluation will have to take place every two years or more depending on the development of your condition. Symptoms may become driving hazards as the disease progresses.
What Are The Treatments For Parkinson’s Disease
There is no cure for PD, and no treatment prevents the disease from progressing. However, treatments can usually ease symptoms.
- At first, you may not need any treatment when the symptoms are mild. A specialist may simply see you every now and then to monitor how the disease is progressing.
- A medicine that eases symptoms is usually started when symptoms become troublesome.
- Therapies such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy may also be useful as the disease progresses.
- Surgery may be an option for severe cases.
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