Category Archives: Parkinson’s

Parkinson’s Disease: Symptoms and getting the right treatment underway

Dementia CareParkinson’s is a progressive disease that affects the central nervous system. In the beginning, the patient experiences mild tremors and rigidity in their limbs. As the disease progresses, the physical problems intensify.  Automatic movements like blinking, gesturing and even smiling are no longer controlled. Apart from stiffness in walking, patients begin to move slower and they must drag their feet to take a step. Speech patterns slow down as well, and in time the patient will become unable to communicate.

Unfortunately, Parkinson’s disease doesn’t have a cure. However, patients can delay the onset of the disease with the right medication. People who have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s don’t have enough dopamine in the brain, which means medication to substitute or increase dopamine levels are required to delay the materialization of the disease. In some cases, medication doesn’t work. The solution can be surgery to boost symptoms through regulating specific regions inside the brain.

Getting the right treatment

Parkinson’s disease manifests differently from patient to patient. Mild symptoms are not treated, and a specialist may just recommend monitoring the process of the disease. Drugs may be recommended when the patient start shaking; your physician may also recommend physiotherapy, speech and occupational therapy. As far as medicine is concerned, the most common type is Levodopa.

Levodopa has been used for several years, and in nearly all patients with PD the drug has rendered results. When taking this medicine, the body transforms it into dopamine. At first, the patient is given a small dose and as the disease progresses, the amount is increased. In most cases, Levodopa is combined with another drug called carbidopa (or benserazide). These are meant to prevent levodopa from converting into dopamine the moment is reaches the bloodstream. The goal is to reduce side-effects and boost the amount that the brain need to function properly.

Dopamine agonists

With a similar role as dopamine, dopamine agonists act on the brain receptors. Basically, the medicine is a dopamine substitute. But unlike levodopa, they don’t have to go through a conversion process as soon as they reach the body. Several of the most common types are rotigotine, ropinirole, and pramipexole. Less used alternatives are bromocriptine, pergolide, and cabergoline; these are alternative because they may have some side-effects (even though it doesn’t happen often), such as heart valve thickening and lung tissue scarring.

Caring for a patient with Parkinson’s disease

 People who have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease depend on professional caregivers for many different activities – from helping them move around the house and get dressed, to taking them to the doctor, cooking, and eating. The disease is a progressive one, and in time the need for a caregiver becomes substantial. Caregivers have the expertise to help a patient accept and understand the disease. If you have a parent of loved one diagnosed with Parkinson’s, the best thing that you can do is become their caregiver, or hire someone to assist you. The job is a challenging one, so whatever you choose to do just remember that the experience will be emotionally and physically demanding.

Get involved

Physicians advise caregivers to attend regular appointments. It is the best way for a doctor to understand the needs of your patient, as well as monitor the onset of the disease and recommend treatment. Keep in mind that Parkinson’s may trigger dementia. The patient may experience memory loss and difficulty understanding what happens around them.

  • Reach out for help and connect with family and friends face to face
  • Stay active and find the strength to be there for your loved one
  • Get informed and know as much as possible about the materialization of the disease
  • Compel your loved one to rest and include more foods based onomega-3 fats (these have a key role in brain health)
  • Consider putting your parent in a adequate nursing home. This is always a difficult task, shopping around for the best place. In UK care homes London are very well sought after, and they provide excellent services. In USA, you can check Caregiving.com to find facilities and their qualifications depending in your geographic area.

Parkinson’s is a nerve-racking progressive disease. Both sufferers and caregivers must learn to accept it. Rather than think about the worst-case scenario, it’s best to stay positive. Consider proper treatment and have a conversation with your parent about professional help, either at home or in an assisted care facility.

Pilot Study Tests Drug that Reverses Parkinson’s and Dementia Symptoms

In a pilot study at Georgetown University Medical Center, researchers found that small doses of the cancer drug nilotinib (used in the treatment of leukemia), appear to dramatically reduce symptoms in patients with Parkinson’s disease with dementia or the related condition, Lewy body dementia. In all eleven patients who completed the six month trial, movement and mental function improved, in some cases the changes were dramatic and ‘life-changing.’

Listen to the story:

Living Well and Safely with Parkinson’s

dream-house-149899_150You often hear people with Parkinson’s say that things get easier once the initial shock of the diagnosis wears off. While no two people have the exact same experience or symptoms, the one thing that they do have in common is the desire to be able to continue living well. Over time, Parkinson’s can lead to difficulties with balance and walking making safety a concern for you and your loved ones. The following tips can help make day-to-day activities easier and safer.

In the Bathroom

According to the National Parkinson Foundation, most falls happen in the bathroom as the result of slipping, poor lighting, and getting on and off the toilet and in and out of the tub. To make your bathroom safer and easier to maneuver, try the following:

  • Install a grab bar in the shower and another near the toilet to hold on to for support. Never use towel bars or faucets for support since these could break.
  • Bath benches and shower stools make bathing and showering easier and can be used to sit on when using the sink when a dizzy spell strikes.
  • An elevated toilet seat provides the extra height needed to make sitting down and getting up easier.
  • Handheld showers make it easier to bathe, especially if you prefer to sit while doing so.
  • Adjusting your hot water temperature to less than 120 degrees lowers the risk of burns while washing.
  • Opt for pump soap instead of bar soap since bar soap tends to be slippery and leave a slippery film on tub and shower surfaces.

In the Kitchen

  • Install hooks to keep the pots and pans that you use the most within easy reach. Other items you use often when cooking can also be kept closer to the stove so you can cook with ease, like pot holders and spices.
  • Install longer cabinet and drawer handles; they’re easier to open than small handles and knobs.
  • Look for cooking utensils and gadgets that can make cooking safer, such as rubber grippers for opening jars and knives with a rounded blade and wooden handle that runs the length of the top of the knife for easy chopping.
  • Keep your kitchen floor clean and clear of anything that can cause you to trip. Any mats should be rubber backed.

In the Bedroom

  • Cute as some of those big and fuzzy slippers can be; choosing a pair of anti-slip slipper socks or a more streamlined closed shoe-type slipper with an anti-slip bottom makes walking around on different surfaces easier and much safer.
  • Keep a flashlight next to the bed in case of a power outage and have lamps and light switches close to the bed.
  • Have your bedroom on the first floor of a home if possible to avoid having to use the stairs at night.
  • A bedside commode or urinal can keep you from having to make trips to the bathroom in the dark. This is especially great if your washroom is on another floor than your bedroom.

In the Rest of the House or While Away

There are a few other things that you can do to help make your home—and any other home away from home that you stay in—a lot safer and easier to enjoy. Nightlights, which you can find at the dollar store in multiple styles, are great to keep in hallways, bathrooms, and the bedroom, as well as to take with you when you travel or stay with family. At home, avoid mats and rugs that can slide or roll up in any room of the house, especially in bathrooms, and request the same if staying somewhere else. Finally, a cordless phone allows you to carry the phone around the house with you and if the range allows, even take with you out onto the porch or yard in case you need to call for assistance or just don’t want to walk across the house to answer it when someone calls.


Adrienne is a freelance writer and author who has written extensively on all things health and lifestyle for more than a decade. When she’s not holed-up in her writing shed researching an article or off interviewing health professionals for Healthline, she can be found frolicking around her beach town with husband and dogs in tow or splashing about the lake trying to master the stand-up paddle board. You can connect with Adrienne on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/writeradrienne.

References

Parkinson’s Disease and Exercise: A Magic Formula

Parkinson'sIn general, older adults should exercise at least 30 minutes per day and a steady routine  will be necessary to gain protection against chronic diseases and to support overall ideal health. Studies have shown that performing physical activity or exercise for more than 30 minutes each day can even bring about greater health benefits. Regular exercise can help manage your body weight, control blood pressure, and decrease possible risk of heart attack. Regular sweating is also good for the skin.

Research has shown that  aerobic walking is safe, well tolerated, and improves aerobic fitness, motor function, fatigue, mood, executive control, and quality of life in mild to moderate PD.If you suffer from Parkinson’s Disease and if you are not exercising regularly, start today. However, always consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program. Exercise can help make living with Parkinson’s disease easier by:

  • Helping you feel more in control of your movements.
  • Reducing gait problems and muscle/joint injuries.
  • Improving flexibility.
  • Increasing muscle strength and balance.
  • Increasing energy, stamina, and cardiovascular health.

Your exercise program should be tailored to your personal abilities and any other health concerns, such as high blood pressure or arthritis. For beginners, you might try these great exercises for people with Parkinson’s disease:

  • Stretching, which will increase your range of motion and relieve muscle tension.
  • Tai chi, which may improve your balance and provide mind and body relaxation.
  • Yoga, which uses stretching and breathing techniques to promote wellness

Some studies have also shown that assisted high-cadence cycling, referred to as “forced exercise,” significantly reduces the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

A new therapy brings hope and results to people with Parkinson’s Disease: the passive and voluntary cycling offers an alterative in fighting back against the disease. A device called Theracycle makes this cycling easier.  Joe Kapsch, a Theracycle rider talks about the importance and challenges of getting sufficient exercise when living with Parkinson’s disease. Joe explains, “Exercise improves your symptoms. Bicycling has done some tremendous things for people with Parkinson’s. … For me personally, it just enriches my soul and gets me going. Truth is I’d rather play basketball than exercise; I’d rather play golf… this is a means to keep playing golf and everything else. I can never get too much exercise on it, and it’s easy.” Read More and get the FREE e-book

Remember exercise helps you fighting against PD. Ready to start?

Alzheimer’s Association and Parkinson’s groups team up for research

Alzheimer's and Parkinson'sKaren Weintraub, in a Special for USA TODAY reported that “… Although people with the memory loss of Alzheimer’s disease and the physical problems of Parkinson’s disease look very different, a growing body of research suggests that their biological damage is quite similar. To better understand those similarities — and why some people end up with one condition versus the other — three foundations that support research into the diseases are joining forces…”

The Alzheimer’s Association, the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research and the W. Garfield Weston Foundation of Canada announced that they will offer joint research grants to study the similarities and differences between these degenerative diseases, which together affect 6 million Americans. The hope is that by collaborating on research, scientists will gain insights that will lead to early diagnostics and better, more targeted treatments for both diseases.

Read More

“Dance Moves Me!” Fundraiser – February 23, 2013

dancemovesmeThe Berkeley Ballet Theater is hosting a fundraising event on Saturday February 23, 7pm, to support their Dance for Parkinson’s (Dance for PD®) classes. There will be an hour-long Dance for PD® class, followed by a performance titled “A Tribute to Hollywood.” The Berkeley Ballet Theater is a partner of Dance for PD®, a non-profit collaboration between the Mark Morris Dance Group and the Brooklyn Parkinson Group. The program offers dance classes where participants are empowered to explore movement and music in ways that are refreshing, enjoyable, stimulating and creative.

More information and tickets.