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How To Deal With Someone With Parkinson’s Disease

Ways To Help Someone You Love Manage Parkinsons Disease

Tips for staying at home with Parkinson’s

Published on www.healthline.com Written by Stephanie Watson

When someone you care about has Parkinsons disease, you see first-hand the effects the condition can have on someone. Symptoms like rigid movements, poor balance, and tremors become part of their day-to-day life, and these symptoms can worsen as the disease progresses.

Your loved one needs extra help and support to stay active and preserve their quality of life. You can help out in a number of ways from offering a friendly ear when they need to talk, to driving them to medical appointments.

Here are eight of the best ways to help someone you love manage Parkinsons disease.

  • Learn everything you can about the disease

  • Parkinsons disease is a movement disorder. If youre a caregiver for someone living with Parkinsons, youre likely familiar with some of the symptoms of the disease. But do you know what causes its symptoms, how the condition progresses, or what treatments can help manage it? Also, Parkinsons doesnt manifest the same way in everyone.

    To be the best ally for your loved one, learn as much as you can about Parkinsons disease. Do research on reputable websites like the Parkinsons Foundation, or read books about the condition. Tag along for medical appointments and ask the doctor questions. If youre well informed, youll have a better idea of what to expect and how to be the most help.

  • Volunteer to help out

  • Help them feel normal

  • Get out of the house

  • Look for worsening symptoms

  • Is The Dementia Caused By Parkinsons Or Something Else

    Indications that dementia may be caused by something other than Parkinsons disease include agitation, delusions , and language difficulties. If the onset of cognitive symptoms is sudden, theyre more likely due to something other than Parkinsons diseaseeven reversible causes such as infection, a vitamin B12 deficiency, or an underactive thyroid gland.

    Depression can mimic dementia by causing similar symptoms such as apathy, memory problems, and concentration difficulties. Since depression is very common in Parkinsons patients, its important to recognize the signs and symptoms of depression in older adults.

    Parkinsons disease dementia vs. other dementias

    Other types of dementia that can be commonly mistaken for Parkinsons disease dementia include:

    Lewy Body Dementia is characterized by fluctuations in alertness and attention, recurrent visual hallucinations, and Parkinsonian motor symptoms like rigidity and the loss of spontaneous movement. In this disorder, cognitive problems such as hallucinations tend to occur much earlier in the course of the disease and often precede difficulties with walking and motor control.

    Alzheimers disease and Parkinsons disease are both common in the elderly, especially in those over 85. Patients with Parkinsons who develop dementia may even develop Alzheimers dementia as well. Therefore, its important to be aware of the signs of Alzheimers Disease and how its treated.

    Who Does It Affect

    The risk of developing Parkinsons disease naturally increases with age, and the average age at which it starts is 60 years old. Its slightly more common in men or people designated male at birth than in women or people designated female at birth .

    While Parkinsons disease is usually age-related, it can happen in adults as young as 20 .

    Recommended Reading: How Long Can A Person Live With Stage 5 Parkinson

    Causes Of Parkinson’s Disease

    Parkinson’s disease is caused by a loss of nerve cells in the part of the brain called the substantia nigra.

    Nerve cells in this part of the brain are responsible for producing a chemical called dopamine. Dopamine acts as a messenger between the parts of the brain and nervous system that help control and co-ordinate body movements.

    If these nerve cells die or become damaged, the amount of dopamine in the brain is reduced. This means the part of the brain controlling movement can’t work as well as normal, causing movements to become slow and abnormal.

    The loss of nerve cells is a slow process. The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease usually only start to develop when around 80% of the nerve cells in the substantia nigra have been lost.

    For Most Couples A Parkinsons Diagnosis Will Send The Relationship Down A New Path With Each Person Experiencing Their Own Set Of Challenges

    Dealing With Parkinson

    The person with Parkinsons may struggle in the relationship as symptoms worsen and they lose the ability to do certain things. Their partner may struggle as they move further into the role of caregiver.

    As important as it is to continue a normal life together, couples should prepare for the inevitable changes that are part of the overall picture of Parkinsons. Whether you are a person with the disease or their partner, learn how to meet those challenges head on with honesty and compassion.

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    Mental Health Concerns In Advanced Parkinsons Disease

    Today we continue Parkinsons Disease: Planning for the What Ifs, a special series of posts to address both motor and non-motor issues of people with advanced Parkinsons disease . We are defining advanced PD as those who are no longer independent of their activities of daily living, and require help for their self-care such as eating, bathing, dressing and toileting. Additional background and the full introduction to the series is still available if you missed it.

    I receive a lot of questions through our Ask a Doctor feature on our website concerning advanced PD, specifically around mental health issues.

    What Parkinsons Has Taught Me

    COMMUNICATION IS ESSENTIAL: In spite of the issues that often make living with Parkinsons a nightmare for Dennis and for me, he and I daily talk about his feelings and mine. Because of this, we constantly make a point of communicating straight up. We dont hide our feelings and opinions from each other. I dont tell other people about what its like living with the disease that I dont tell him directly. He doesnt try to cover up his disappointment in what he can and cant do. Because we communicate, we are able to laugh a lot about things such as breaking glasses or slopping food or typing on a computer. Laughter helps us both deal with frustration and anger and fear.

    FLEXIBILITY IS A GIVEN: There is nothing that a person has planned that cant be postponed or changed. Nothing.

    PATIENCE IS MANDATORY: Its a lot easier for a healthy person to do things for a person with physical challenges than to wait while they do it for themselves. I am healthy. I could play the role of superwoman. I dont. I encourage Dennis do as much as he can for himself. If it takes him three hours to sweep the walk, so be it. If he needs salt, he gets up and gets it. Dennis has always taken pride in contributing to the well-being of our household. He deserves to participate. It is my belief that if I take over all the responsibilities for running our lives, I will eventually make him weaker and more dependent. This is not a good situation for either of us.

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    Suggest They Join A Support Group

    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.

    Movement Problems And Lewy Body Dementia

    My Parkinson’s Story: The Caregiver

    Some people with LBD may not experience significant movement problems for several years. Others may have them early on. At first, movement symptoms, such as a change in handwriting, may be very mild and easily overlooked. Movement problems may include:

    • Muscle rigidity or stiffness

    Also Check: What Specialist Treats Parkinson’s Disease

    Who Gets Parkinsons Disease

    Parkinsonâs disease, documented in 1817 by physician James Parkinson, is the second most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimerâs disease. Estimates regarding the number of people in the United States with Parkinsonâs range from 500,000 to 1,500,000, with 50,000 to 60,000 new cases reported annually. No objective test for Parkinsonâs disease exists, so the misdiagnosis rate can be high, especially when a professional who doesnât regularly work with the disease makes the diagnosis.

    What Causes The Condition

    Although there are several recognized risk factors for Parkinsons disease, such as exposure to pesticides, for now, the only confirmed causes of Parkinsons disease are genetic. When Parkinsons disease isnt genetic, experts classify it as idiopathic . That means they dont know exactly why it happens.

    Many conditions look like Parkinson’s disease but are instead parkinsonism from a specific cause like some psychiatric medications.

    Familial Parkinsons disease

    Parkinsons disease can have a familial cause, which means you can inherit it from one or both of your parents. However, this only makes up about 10% of all cases.

    Experts have linked at least seven different genes to Parkinson’s disease. They’ve linked three of those to early-onset of the condition . Some genetic mutations also cause unique, distinguishing features.

    Idiopathic Parkinsons disease

    Experts believe idiopathic Parkinsons disease happens because of problems with how your body uses a protein called -synuclein . Proteins are chemical molecules that have a very specific shape. When some proteins dont have the correct shape a problem known as protein misfolding your body cant use them and can’t break them down.

    With nowhere to go, the proteins build up in various places or in certain cells . The buildup of these Lewy bodies causes toxic effects and cell damage.

    Induced Parkinsonism

    The possible causes are:

    Also Check: Is Vertigo A Sign Of Parkinson’s

    Follow A Healthy Diet Plan

    When it comes to diet, there is no restrict rule. However, you need to make sure to consume enough calories and nutrients. Eating well will maintain your body strength and weight. Additionally, it will help you to fight constipation, which is a common problem in Parkinsons patients.

    • Try to eat a variety of foods to get enough proteins, vitamins, carbs, and fibers.
    • Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits.
    • Consume foods with a low level of saturated fats and cholesterol.
    • Avoid eating food containing a high amount of sugar or salt.
    • Drinking alcohol has shown to be protective, but excessive use can be harmful. Therefore, try to avoid or use it moderately.

    Caregiving & Helping Others

    Pin on med school life

    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.

    Recommended Reading: Fun Activities For Parkinson’s Patients

    Making Your Home Safe

    As Parkinson’s progresses, a person with the condition experiences more mobility issues. They’ll need more assistance going about their day-to-day lives. Getting around their home safely might also become a little more challenging.

    Here are a couple of things you can do to make your home safer for a person with Parkinson’s disease:

    • Keep the floors clear: Any things that can easily be tripped over on the floors of your home, like electrical cords, should be kept away. Keep the usual path they take through the house as clear as possible.
    • Install ramps when needed: At the later stages of Parkinson’s, a person’s mobility might become so restricted that they need a wheelchair. It’s essential to make your home wheelchair-friendly and accessible if this happens.
    • Make your bathroom safer: Install grab bars around the tub and anti-slip mats in them if you have a bathtub. Also, keep personal hygiene products within easy reach to prevent them from slipping or falling over trying to reach for them.

    How Should I Know That I Have Parkinsons Disease

    In Parkinsons disease, abnormal changes appear in the brain many years before the onset of its typical signs. But you wouldnt recognize the disease at this stage.

    The disease becomes evidently clear when you experience symptoms like hand trembling, stiffness in the muscle, difficulty in walking, and problem in balance. In addition, you may also feel difficulty in talking, loss of facial expression and decreased blinking .

    If you experience most of these signs, its a clear indication that you have Parkinsons disease.

    Also Check: Does Parkinson’s Affect Your Bowels

    Diagnosis Of Parkinsons Disease

    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.

    Other Tips For Caregivers

    Living with Parkinsonâs disease

    Arming yourself with the proper knowledge and preparing for the degenerating symptoms of the condition are the first and most essential steps for a caregiver taking care of a loved one with Parkinson’s disease.

    Other tips that can make this challenging prospect a little more manageable include:

    • Maintain a healthy diet: Maintaining a healthy diet for your loved ones is as important as ensuring they stay on their medication and treatment plan.
    • Ask for help: Don’t feel like you have to take on all of the care alone. If you can afford it, you can hire assistance or reach out to other family and friends to help you with the care.

    Also Check: Does Parkinson’s Make You Mean

    Parkinson’s Disease Tests And Diagnosis

    There are, unfortunately, no standard tests for diagnosing Parkinson’s disease. Instead, doctors will make a diagnosis based on a review of their patient’s symptoms, medical history, and physical and neurological examination. Doctors will also consider other conditions that may be causing the symptoms and order tests for them. This may include imaging tests that do not assist in diagnosing Parkinson’s disease.

    Patients may also be prescribed disease-specific medication. If their condition improves significantly while taking the medication, it is likely confirmation of the diagnosis. Diagnosing Parkinson’s disease can take some time and require regular follow-up appointments to evaluate symptoms. Family members may also need to be consulted for information during this process as well.

    Do Try And Identify The Trigger That Causes Behavior Change

    After spending some time with a patient who has dementia, caregivers may be in a position to identify some of the things that make dementia sufferers yell, get physical, or change their mood. For some, it may be something simple such as taking a bath or even getting dressed.

    The best approach to handle this is not to force the patient to do something that they do not want to do. Try and distract them with something else that allows them to relax and calm down. Once they are not a danger to themselves or anyone around them, try going back to the subject, but this time reassuringly and calmly.

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    Related Diagnosis: Lewy Body Dementia

    Current research is helping to differentiate dementia related conditions in relationship to Parkinsonâs disease. Doctorâs use a 12-month arbitrary rule to aid in diagnosis. When dementia is present before or within 1 year of Parkinsonâs motor symptoms developing, an individual is diagnosed with DLB. Those who have an existing diagnosis of Parkinsonâs for more than a year, and later develop dementia, are diagnosed with PDD.

    In the simplest terms, Lewy bodies are abnormal clumps of proteins that develop in nerve cells. Cholinesterase inhibitors, medications originally developed for Alzheimerâs disease, are the standard treatment today for cognitive DLB and PDD symptoms. Early diagnosis is important, as DLB patients may respond differently than Alzheimerâs disease patients to certain drug, behavioral, and dementia care treatments.

    This challenging, multi-system disorder involving movement, cognition, behavior, sleep, and autonomic function requires a comprehensive treatment approach to maximize the quality of life for both the care recipient and their caregiver. It is very important to pay attention to symptoms of dementia and to search for an expert clinician who can diagnose the condition accurately.

    How To Be A Good Spouse When They Have Parkinsons

    Your Parkinson

    July 28, 2020 by Zach Galati

    Being a good caregiver to someone with Parkinsons can be a difficult job. If the person you are giving care for is your spouse then this can be like tiptoeing on eggshells. So, I wanted to share some of the tips and tricks I have learned from being a caregiver to a spouse with Parkinsons over the last few years. These tips have helped our marriage not only avoid breaking down but have helped our marriage flourish.

    Making sure they take medications

    Something helpful I do for my spouse is to remind him to take his medications. We set up alarms on his smartphone so that he is reminded when to take his medication. We bought weekly pill boxes with 3 compartments per day and set them up a week at a time. This makes it really easy to see if my spouse has taken their medication or needs help remembering. I can also encourage my spouse on days when taking medication can feel like too much of a chore.

    Assisting them in getting to the doctors

    Depending on where your spouse is at, they may not be able to get themselves to their doctors appointments. I usually drive my spouse to the doctors office or hospital, and he has agreed for me to come into his appointments with him. I usually jot down notes of what is said to make sure we dont forget, and we can talk it over again when we get home. However, arranging someone else to come and give them a ride to the doctors is also a great way to help out your spouse and give them less to worry about.

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