Communication Systems And Technology
Not long ago, people with Parkinsons and similar conditions often lost the ability to communicate clearly through speech. Note-writing helped, but insufficient muscle control in the hands can make that difficult, too. Today, we are fortunate to have more sophisticated communication technologies.
Contemporary technologies can assist those who are facing challenges with speaking and writing as well as enhance their safety. Consider:
- Digital technologies like computer tablets
- Larger keyboards make easy adaptations for desktop computers
- Communication board devices that help people with limited speech ability express themselves by choosing images that represent words
- TTY and TTY-based telephone relay services for those with impaired speech, enabling them to place phone calls from anywhere in the U.S. by dialing 711 for non-emergency calls and 911 for emergencies
- A smart watch that enables communication
- Smart speakers like and Google Nest provide an easy home modification for Parkinsons patients or anyone that offers safety measures as well as entertainment.
While there is still no way to prevent or cure the disease, simple home modifications for Parkinsons can help maintain safety and independence.
Department Of Veterans Affairs
Through the VA Health Care program and their pensions, the VA offers veterans multiple avenues of assistance with medical equipment, assistive technology and home modification. The avenue best pursued depends on whether or not the individual with Parkinsons Disease was exposed to herbicides during their military service. For those individuals not exposed, they are most likely to receive assistance from the Aid and Attendance pension benefit, VD-HCBS or the HISA Grant. For those veterans with PD who were exposed, VA Health Care will cover the cost of much assistive technology and medical equipment.Another option for veterans comes not from the VA but from a non-profit organization with a veteran-specific program called Heroes at Home. This program is intended to assist in making home modifications and typically provides free labor for modifications but does not cover the cost of materials.
How To Exercise With Parkinsons
Whether you’re a first-time exerciser or a lifelong athlete, the key to working out with Parkinsons is to safely and regularly move your body in a variety of ways. Your fitness regimen should include these four main categories of exercise:
- Aerobic activity
- Balance, agility, and multi-task exercises
People with Parkinsons should strive to perform aerobic activity at least three times weekly and to complete exercises from the other categories two to three times each week.
In total, the Parkinsons Foundation suggests performing 150 minutes of moderate tovigorous exercise weekly.
To help you achieve this goal, try these helpful tips:
- Invest in a treadmill, elliptical, or exercise bike. This will make it convenient to perform aerobic exercise from your home, regardless of the weather.
- Obtain a set of light hand weights from a local exercise shop or thrift store. These can be used for a wide variety of strength training exercises.
- Follow along with one of the many online exercise classes on YouTube that are tailored to people with Parkinsons disease. The Parkinsons Foundation and the Davis Phinney Foundation offer many great online exercise videos.
- Connect with a workout buddy by finding a local Parkinsons support group associated with the American Parkinson Disease Association
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Mobility Equipment And Disability Aids
There is a large variety of mobility equipment and disability aids for everyday living available to help people with Parkinson’s. Mobility and disability aids can help people to maintain independence in the activities that are most important to them.
Some aids used by people with Parkinsons include:
- Mobility aids to assist with safety and independence whilst walking
- Personal care aids to assist with independence during activities such as showering and dressing
- Communication aids to improve speech and communication
Aids and equipment can be highly specialised, so finding the right help and advice is essential. An experienced and skilled health professional will help you to select the aids and equipment most suited to your needs.
This section covers:
Finding The Home You Need: Modifications For People With Parkinson’s Disease
It can be very difficult for a someone with Parkinsons disease to find a home with accessibility features. Most real estate agents dont have much experience dealing with accessible properties and there are few resources that can simplify the process for disabled home buyers. It takes considerable research and patience to find a property that meets your needs.
Its often necessary to find a home that can be modified to suit your needs. Making a home environment safer can reduce the risk of PD-related falls and injuries. Below are some tips to get started.
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How Can I Make My Home Easier To Live In
Not all of these recommendations may be right for you. Your occupational therapist or rehabilitation specialist can help determine which of these are best for you.
In your living room and bedrooms:
Place furniture so that you have wide walkways. This will leave you plenty of space to move around.
If you can, make outlets easily available for lamps and appliances. If you need extension cords, make sure they’re secured with tape and out of the way, so you don’t trip on them.
Use chairs with straight backs, armrests, and firm seats. This will make it easier for you to get up and sit down. Firm cushions can add height and make it easier to move.
Look for lamps that you can turn on with a touch or with sound.
If possible, change your phones to ones with larger buttons. It’ll make dialing easier. Have the numbers you call a lot programmed into speed dial.
Install handrails along walls, hallways, and stairwells where there is nothing to hold on to.
If you have trouble getting out of bed, see about having a stationary pole or “trapeze” bar installed. You could also try to sleep in a reclining chair.
In your bathroom:
Use an elevated toilet seat or safety rails to make it easier for you to get up. Don’t use towel racks or bathroom tissue holders to help you stand.
Put extended lever handles on your faucets. That’ll make them easier to turn.
In your kitchen:
Have at least one counter workspace lowered so you can reach it when you’re sitting.
Make Daily Activities Simpler
Simplifying your daily activities may help you to save your energy for activities that really demand it. It also may help to adjust your daily schedule so that your routine is less stressful or tiring.
Physical therapists, occupational therapists, other people who have the disease, and the people who care for them may be good sources of help and support.
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Getting Dressed With Parkinsons Disease
Dressing someone with Parkinsons disease may become a time- and labor-intensive task as their motor skills and strength wane. In addition, muscle stiffness and painful muscle cramps can make dressing difficult and unpleasant. Whenever possible, replace buttons or zippers with Velcro or magnetized fasteners. Opt for loose-fitting clothing, which is easier and more comfortable to get on and off. An extra-long shoehorn can help with putting on shoes while seated. One of the most important things for a caregiver to remember when providing assistance with dressing is to go slow and set aside plenty of time for this activity of daily living .
Read:Tips for Dressing Someone with Parkinsons
How Modifications To Your Environment Can Help You Stay In Your Home
As we hear often, Parkinsons disease affects every person differently. Because of this, it is very difficult to predict how any individuals PD will progress. This may create a source of stress as people with PD and their care partners begin to contemplate the future. They may ask themselves: What is in store for us? Will we be able to stay in our home? What options are there if we need more help?
Although this is a very complex set of questions, you can empower yourself by learning about services that are available to help you or your loved one as PD progresses. This includes help with home modifications. An occupational therapist with specialized training in home accessibility can help you stay in your house safely.
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Social Security Disability Insurance
SSDI, often referred to as simply Disability, is assistance intended for those individuals who are of working age and cannot work as a direct result of their medical condition. The SSA does not provide care assistance but instead provides financial assistance that can be used for care. To be eligible one must both have a written diagnosis of Parkinsons Disease and have earned monthly income of less than approximately $1,000.
How To Help Someone With Parkinsons Stay Mobile
A very common symptom of Parkinsons is freezing. This happens when a person is walking or moving and suddenly experiences extreme rigidity and an almost complete loss of movement as if their feet are glued to the floor. When this happens, prompting can help your loved one become unstuck. Ask them to pretend that they are stepping over an imaginary line or object on the floor, or even encourage them to rock very slowly and gently from side to side to help them get moving again. If freezing is a common occurrence for your loved one, consider purchasing a specialty mobility device like a walker or rollator that is equipped with a laser pointer. When freezing occurs, they can simply press a button to project a laser line on the floor and use it as a visual cue to help them continue moving.
Massage therapy for Parkinsons patients can alleviate stress and relieve spasms, tremors, rigidity and muscle cramps. Heating pads also soothe aching muscles, and menthol pain relieving gel does wonders for stiff joints, but never use both together.
Exercising can be difficult at first but very beneficial for those living with PD. Encourage your loved one to do hand exercises like squeezing a rubber ball for short periods of time throughout the day to help reduce tremors and to keep hands and fingers strong and flexible. Even short daily walks and a mild fitness routine can keep muscles, tendons and joints strong for as long as possible.
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More Information About Equipment
Yoorallas Independent Living Centre provides information about a large range of assistive and communication technologies to support children and adults with disability with their functional independence at home, work and in their communities.
Equipment can be viewed and trialed at the ILC showroom in Braybrook, Victoria. Therapists are available to provide information and advice. For more information you can phone the ILC on 1300 885 886 or visit their website at www.ilcaustralia.org.au.
Coping With Cognitive Changes And Parkinsons
Cognitive decline and behavioral changes often occur in the middle and late stages of Parkinsons disease. Caregivers must be particularly understanding and flexible when loved ones begin experiencing changes in memory and thinking. A PD patient may have trouble with planning, problem-solving, multitasking and spatial reasoning, which can make daily activities frustrating, impossible or even dangerous. Its important to encourage independence but remain focused on ensuring their safety.
Changes in a loved ones brain may also affect their ability to communicate. Approximately 89 percent of people diagnosed with Parkinsons disease also have some type of progressive motor speech disorder. A PD patients voice may become softer or hoarser, they may have difficulty finding words, or their speech may become slurred. Working with a speech therapist can help an elder maintain their communication skills and confidence in social settings. Continue to encourage open communication, minimize distractions, and allow more time for responses as well as verbalized requests.
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Implementation Of The Pd Home Safety Questionnaire In A Pilot Trial
As a pilot trial, the PD home safety questionnaire was employed by another MDT, who was not involved with the item generation and validation process, in five PD homes. Eligibility criteria were the homes of PD patients who had a diagnosis confirmed by a movement disorder neurologist using the standard diagnostic criteria and had been resident in this home for more than 10 years without prior adaptations. All patients must have carers who were their spouses and share the same bedroom environment. All patients were identified by the MDT to have both disabling symptoms from PD and housing problems, particularly in their bedrooms, requiring adaptations. Patients with significant comorbidities were excluded as it would be difficult to establish if environmental barriers occur as a result of PD or other disorders. Due to transport limitations, only those patients who resided in Bangkok were invited to participate. From the eight PD patients who were randomly selected and satisfied the above criteria, three declined the invitation to participate in this pilot trial . The main reason for refusal was being too embarrassed to show their houses to the MDT. The study was approved by the Ethics Committee of Chulalongkorn University and informed consent was obtained from all participants. Clinical demographics of all five patients were shown in Table 1. Other clinical descriptions and their housing conditions were described as follows .
Home Safety Considerations For Parkinsons Disease
Mobility problems are common symptoms of Parkinsons disease, therefore maximizing the safety and accessibility of a patients home is a top priority. Since seniors with PD often use mobility aids like canes, walkers, rollators or wheelchairs, wide, clear pathways in rooms and hallways are important. The following home elements can make it difficult for a person with limited mobility to get around their home safely.
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Advice On Equipment And Aids
If you have Parkinson’s and you’re considering buying mobility equipment or disability aids for everyday living, it’s essential that you first have an assessment from a relevant therapist.
A therapist will assess your needs and make informed recommendations. They can also help you to access the State-Wide Equipment Program . This program provides a subsidy towards the cost of disability equipment and aids.
The type of therapist you need depends on what kind of activity is causing you problems.
Home Modifications For Parkinsons Disease
We offer home modifications for Parkinsons disease in Raleigh and the surrounding areas. How do these modifications differ? What are some key elements we look for? Parkinsons Disease is a neurological disease affecting the brain. Neurological disease presentation varies widely person to person, but generally Parkinsons disease has some common symptoms.
Ive based the chart below on common symptoms of Parkinsons disease that can lead to frequent issues in the home. But I do want to emphasize the importance of having a professional healthcare provider on board when looking to make home modifications for Parkinsons disease. Those individuals with Parkinsons Disease may have common symptoms, but these symptoms are manifested in varying degrees in different individuals.
5 Considerations when making home modifications for Parkinsons disease
The first item listed in entry into the home. Because of posterior leaning posture often associated with Parkinsons Disease, a ramp may not be the best fit. Maybe you will need handrails to your existing stairs. Having a physical therapist assess your entry and ability to manage stairs and/or a ramp will help you best plan for your needs.
The next item is lever handles and drawer pulls instead of knobs. These items can help for those with decreased hand grip and/or tremor.
Item #3 is removing throw rugs, a critical piece of any aging in place and accessibility design plan.
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How A Speech Pathologist Can Help
If you have noticed changes to your speech or swallowing abilities, you may need to see a speech pathologist . Items such as voice amplifiers can be particularly helpful for improving communication in people living with Parkinsons. A speech pathologist can advise you on communications aids as well as exercises and techniques related to speech and swallowing.
Locating An Accessible Or Modifiable Home
Finding a home thats right for you requires a lot of internet research looking for homes with specific features. There arent many dedicated online resources, though Barrier Free Homes, a one-stop source for disabled individuals looking for accessible housing, and Easy Living Home, a voluntary program that encourages the inclusion of accessible features, can be helpful.
Whatever resource you choose, begin searching as soon as possible and allow yourself enough time to find the right property. As you work through your search and the homebuying process, keep in mind the Fair Housing Act was enacted to protect disabled homebuyers from discrimination, so know your rights as you navigate this territory. In addition, federal departments such as Housing and Urban Development and the Federal Housing Administration can help qualified buyers find proper housing.
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Recently I Was Able To Ask Ms Rochford About Her Work
1) What is Barrier-Free design?
Barrier-Free Design is an individualized plan to increase the accessibility and safety of an individuals home environment. This can include structural changes to the home as well as the use of equipment to aid in the performance of daily tasks. As an OT, I evaluate the person, their home environment, and the activities he/she wants and needs to perform. Because I understand the medical conditions of the people I am evaluating, I am not only planning for their current needs but am thinking and planning for their possible future needs. When collaborating with an architect and/or contractor on more complex home modifications, I view myself as a bridge between the patient and the home builder. I am able to speak both of their languages, so I can help design the environment to maximize the persons function.
2) Is this a service that is widely available in occupational therapy departments? If not, are there other ways to access similar services?
3) What are the most common types of home modifications that you recommend for Parkinsons patients?
4) What was the most complex home modification that you recommended/designed?
5) How do people finance these home modifications?