Living with Parkinson's disease
After Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease is the most common neuro-degenerative disorder in America. Parkinson's disease produces physical symptoms like tremors that get worse over time and as a result, simple, everyday tasks become more difficult. Unfortunately, when a loved one is living with Parkinson's disease, many families focus on what they feel has become difficult or impossible for their loved one to do and begin taking over the completion of those tasks. What many families don't realize is with a few simple modifications, they can help their loved one maintain their dignity and independence which can have a dramatic impact on their emotional and physical wellbeing. By looking at the environment differently, loved ones can be set-up for success as they manage the challenges of their disease.
For example, as dexterity and balance become more difficult, look at your loved one's wardrobe from a new perspective. If buttons, zippers and laces make it difficult for your loved one to dress themselves, consider pull on clothing with elastic waistbands, pull-over shirts and Velcro closures for shoes which are easier to put on with minimal assistance. In addition, place a solid arm chair in your loved one's bedroom so your loved one can sit while dressing, providing support and avoiding the possibility of losing balance and/or sliding off the bed. If getting in and out of bed, or repositioning in bed are difficult tasks, replace flannel sheets and heavy blankets with satin sheets which make in-bed adjustments easier, reducing friction and frustration.
Shower time can be a challenge, but can be simplified by avoiding bar soap which can be slippery and difficult to handle. Instead, encourage liquid body wash or soap-on-a-rope which are easier to handle. If bar soap is your only option, cut the leg out of a pair of nylons and drop the soap in the leg and tie the other end to a handrail. Also consider offering several smaller hand towels, rather than one large bath sheet for drying which can be difficult to handle. For assistance with eating and brushing teeth there are large handle utensils which are easier for your loved one to hold and use independently.
Of course the best tool for family caregivers to have when a loved one has Parkinson's disease is patience. Everything needs to happen at a slower pace if your loved one is going to be safe and successful. Allow them the time to complete tasks on their time table. If that means meals, personal care and household activities take a bit longer, so be it. The time will be well worth it when you see the sense of accomplishment in your loved one's face from having completed their daily routines with minimal assistance. For more tips on helping your loved with Parkinson's disease, visit www.parkinson.org.
For more information about how Home Instead Caregivers can assist those living with Parkinson's disease, contact your local Home Instead Senior Care office at 972-576-1100 or go to HomeInstead.com/742.
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