Parkinson’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.
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.
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.
Caregiver’s self care when caring for a loved one is a growing problem many of us face, these days and is going unattended. We hear this often:, “My mother is the person with Dementia, but I am the one going crazy!”. Many people want to age in place and sometimes that comes with a high price for family members and friends who need to support the loved ones to fulfill this goal and meet their needs.
Researchers know a lot about the effects of caregiving on health and well being of family members and friends acting as caregivers, as much as that one of professional caregivers.
For example, if you are a caregiving spouse between the ages of 66 and 96 and are experiencing mental or emotional strain, you have a risk of dying that is 63 percent higher than for those who are not caregivers.
Caregivers who feel burned-out report:
- sleep deprivation
- poor eating habits
- failure to exercise
- failure to stay in bed when ill
- postponement of or failure to make medical appointments for themselves.
Taking your Care in Your Hands
Kira Reginato says: Do you tend to put yourself last as a caregiver? Not sure how to go about changing that? As a gerontologist and elder care consultant, Kira wants to help you. She draws from her three decades of expertise helping older adults and their families as well as from caring for her aging father for two years. She knows the weight gain, the interrupted sleep, the worry, the resentment, along with the funny and tender moments. Join her presentation! Learn why elder care is so much harder nowadays than ever before. Decrease your guilt.
Kira Reginato, speaker, author, and elder care consultant has served thousands of older adults and their families in many settings: hospitals, residential care homes, skilled nursing facilities, hospices, Alzheimer’s adult day health programs and Meals on Wheels. She also hosted the long-running radio shows “Call Kira About Aging!” and “The Elder Care Show.” In her new book—Tips for Helping Your Aging Parents (without losing your mind), she shares best practices from 30 years of experience. Kira speaks to civic and corporate groups to help people maintain their own lives while “not losing their minds” in a caretaking role.
Learn how to reverse caregiver burn out. Learn to give yourself permission to limit what you do. Find out about gadgets you can use to make life easier.
The senior age comes with its own challenges and concerns. Being alone and aging in place at this stage is difficult especially when you have no one from the family there to offer you at least emotional if not physical support. However, we must always see the good side of every living experience and find the way in which to ensure a joyful road through life. Being self-aware of your current conditions and always keen on ensuring proper health for yourself is the best thing that you can do when you are alone at home and may not receive any help. Knowledge is power and the more you know about your challenges and assets, the more planning you can do and hope for safety and wellness in your golden years. Knowledge is power and hope is everything.
Also, turning to professionals to offer you advice and proper care in your own home is another solution that you can consider when the situation requires it. Older people should never be ashamed or scared to ask for professional support from those who can help them do what they cannot do anymore or simply help them keep their health and overall lifestyle in good conditions.
Living Alone at Home: Receiving Support from Specialists or Friends
Certain seniors decide on their own to live alone at home whereas others do not have the possibly to receive care in specialized centers. However, they also have the possibility to receive support in the comfort of their own home when the situation requires it. They may have someone visiting them every day to check their health status and offer support and advice for a healthy life.
Also, they can also have someone check on them less often when their conditions do not require daily support to ensure a proper life. It is all according to their needs and requirements. However, constant support is usually recommended for seniors living alone in their home. Sometimes, even a good word can mean a lot for them.
When specialized help is not possible, such support can also be offered by senior friends. They have the same age, a similar perspective on life and they can offer each other what they need in terms of emotional and physical support. It is always better to share life with someone else than to be always alone. Intimacy and privacy are also important in their life because they still want to be independent and feel free every day.
However, as much as we all need friends and support from time to time, seniors should also rely on their friends and spend time together as often as they can so that they might not feel the lack of human contact and emotions in their life.
Survival at the Senior Age: Relying on Yourself and Others
The elderly stage of life does not necessarily have to mean lack of independence or the inability of taking care of yourself. If you have adopted a healthy lifestyle up until now you are probably more than capable of taking care of yourself. However, certain health issues or concerns are inevitable at every age. It is then that you must go to specialists and make sure you follow their recommendations in terms of medical treatments and general activities that might keep you in shape.
Moreover, sharing your current living conditions and experiences with other people going through the same stage is essential. You may be able to help your friends with something they cannot do and they might offer you support in what you need as well. Sharing is caring at every age. Just because you are older now and may not have family members there for you should never mean that you must be alone. Reach to those who understand you as well as to professionals who work with passion in the senior care industry to get what you need in life at this stage.
The Joy of Living Decently when You Are Older
Joy should never be left out of the equation of life no matter what age we are. The same way we enjoy life when we are young when pure joy and happiness are all we know, we can also include this feeling in our senior stage of life. Our colleague Francis Edward from Forest Health Care, recommends: “…Make the best of what you have available now and make sure you live a decent life no matter what the numbers show in terms of age…” and we add to that, do not hesitate to ask help from experts in your area as needed.
November 1, 4:30pm: Therapy Session by Living Well Assisted Living At Home
Kaiser Permanente, 4141 Geary Boulevard Room F2 (between 5th and 6th Avenue), San Francisco, CA 94118
Five experts join in a panel discussion on wills, trusts and aging parents Thursday, Nov. 10, at the Northgate Mall Community Room, 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
The event is sponsored by the Women’s Collective of Marin, a professional association hosting panel discussions by women for women on topics that women care about. Speakers for this event include estate planning attorney Hilary Spaulding Namnath; gerontology expert Dr. Doris Bersing; home health advocate Terri Abelar; and banking expert Karen Hawkey. Certified financial planner Kathleen Nemetz will moderate.
The event begins with hors d’oeuvres, and mix and mingle networking. The panel discussion follows at 6 pm. There is no charge to attend.
Panelists will address the issues baby boomers commonly face when managing their older parents. Often these issues center on whether mom or dad has created a will or trust, or arranged the necessary finances for a long retirement. Other issues are provoked by declining health, capacity or mobility.
- Date & Time
- Thursday, November 10, 2016
- 5:30 — 7pm
- Community Room, Northgate Mall
2nd flr., behind food courts
Las Gallinas and Northgate Drives
San Rafael, CA 94903
- Registration is recommended
Dementia can affect a person in any number of ways, so it’s important to take care of the mind, body, and spirit in equal measure after a diagnosis of the disease. Although it is associated most closely with memory loss, there are physical and emotional tolls as well. It is most commonly caused by changes in the brain brought on by Alzheimer’s disease or more than one stroke and can bring on violent behavior, problems with language skills, and trouble with day-to-day activities.
For individuals who have not been placed in assisted living but need help in their day-to-day, there are many things for loved ones to think about concerning their safety and wellbeing. It’s helpful to go around their living space and assess any possible dangers or hazards; upgrades may need to be made in order to keep them comfortable, happy, and safe. Jim Vogel, offers here few of the best tips on how to do just that.
Encourage cognition: It’s important for sufferers of dementia to keep their minds active, so encourage them to play word games or simply tell stories about their life. Remembrance is a good thing, even when it involves a sad memory, because it keeps the individual in the present and helps them focus.
Keep them social: Loneliness can quickly lead to depression, so it’s important to make sure your loved one stays active and social. Help them find a group activity or club to join, such as a book group that meets once a week. Finding something they love and can stay active in will help immensely with mood and cognition, and it will give them a goal as well as something to look forward to.
Daily exercise is a must: Daily exercise is great for the body, but it’s good for the mind and mood, too. Activity can boost brain function and help stimulate positive feelings, so help your loved one get out and get moving. Daily walks in sturdy shoes are perfect, as is swimming, golfing, gardening, and anything else they might enjoy that won’t put a strain on them physically.
Safety measures: It’s important to know what your loved one’s specific needs are before assessing their living space. If dementia has progressed to a certain point, you might consider implementing safety measures such as door alarms and personal emergency alarms. Look around every room and check for properly installed smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, adequate lighting, and trip hazards such as slippery rugs, clutter, or furniture. Bathrooms will need to be checked for safety hazards as well; non-slip rubber mats should be placed on the floor and in the tub, and handrails or shower seats are always advisable. And if you’re loved one takes any medication, take control of their daily doses. Doing so will help them avoid becoming addicted to medications, such as opioids, and dangerous side effects from incorrect dosage.
If the dementia diagnosis is linked to Alzheimer’s, it’s important to understand the side effects of both, as they may differ from person to person. Alzheimer’s can cause physical issues such as vision loss and balance problems, so it’s imperative to make sure your loved one’s home can accommodate them safely. Stairs may be a problem to navigate; make sure the handrails are in good shape and the stairwell is well lit.
Lastly, keep up good communication with your loved one and make sure they know you’re there for them. Help them keep in touch with other family members and friends and offer to assist them with doctor appointments; every little thing helps.