Caring for a Loved One with Parkinson’s Disease

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By HomeWell Care Services

April 18, 2024

Caring for a Loved One with Parkinson’s Disease
Caring for a Loved One with Parkinson’s Disease

Table of Contents

Caring for a loved one with Parkinson’s Disease can be quite the challenge due to its slow progression, often making it a prolonged, demanding commitment. However, amid its tough obstacles, there are also many rewarding moments you’ll experience as a caregiver. It’s important to try to focus on the positives and to find love in each moment you spend with your loved one, even when their symptoms make it difficult.

Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms

The symptoms of Parkinson’s can greatly vary between individuals—whether that be the severity, rate of progression or type of symptom itself. Some common signs of Parkinson’s Disease include:1

  • Anxiety
  • Bladder symptoms
  • Changes in mood or behavior
  • Cognitive and memory issues
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Difficulty swallowing or eating
  • Fatigue
  • Impaired balance and coordination
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pain or tingling
  • Sleep problems
  • Slowness of movement
  • Tremors in hands, arms, jaws, legs or head

It’s important to note that some of these symptoms may also occur with normal aging; however, you or your loved one should speak with a doctor if these symptoms worsen or begin to interfere with daily living.

Tips for Managing Parkinson’s at Home

If your family member with Parkinson’s wants to remain at home, they may need to modify their environment or lifestyle. Here are a few tips to keep in mind to ensure your loved one can safely remain at home, especially as the disease progresses.

  1. Adapt your home 

Parkinson’s affects people’s movements, balance and stability, so it’s important for them to live in a safe environment that is well-lit, free of clutter and well-organized. Avoid using excessive patterns throughout the home and install ambulation aids, such as grab bars, where necessary. Consider raising the toilet seat and the bed height, as well, to minimize fall risks at home

  1. Prepare for an emergency 

Familiarize yourself with the fastest route to the nearest hospital in case an emergency arises. If your loved one is left alone often, consider buying emergency assistance technology, such as medical alert pendants. 

  1. Incorporate a nutritious diet 

Nutrition makes a huge difference in all seniors’ lives, but especially those with Parkinson’s Disease. Since this disorder stems from changes in the brain, foods that promote brain health—neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory, fiber-rich and high-antioxidant foods—can help minimize motor and non-motor symptoms. On the other hand, foods high in sugar or carbohydrates may worsen your loved one’s symptoms.2 Talk to your doctor to figure out what changes in diet can help your loved one and what types of daily habits can contribute to a healthier lifestyle.

  1. Stay well hydrated 

Staying hydrated can help relieve digestive issues, especially constipation. If increasing your loved one’s water intake leads to urinary incontinence or urgency, then you may consider adding food high in water content to their diet, such as tomato, cucumber, celery or grapefruit.2 

  1. Practice medication compliance 

It’s important for seniors with Parkinson’s to take their medication as prescribed, as this will help treat motor and non-motor symptoms. Taking proper medication and incorporating a healthy diet may cause the medicine to be more effective. Some foods, especially those high in protein, can affect how quickly the medication is absorbed, used or metabolized by your body.2 Talk to your doctor to ensure your loved one’s diet, prescription, and schedules align. 

  1. Engage in physical activity 

Incorporating regular aerobics, strength training, agility workouts and stretching can help improve motor and non-motor Parkinson’s symptoms.3 Seniors with Parkinson’s Disease are encouraged to exercise shortly after taking medication and with a partner who can monitor them. Talk to your loved one’s doctor or trainer to establish a workout routine that fits their unique needs. 

  1. Provide your best self 

Parkinson’s Disease is hard on everyone, from the individual to their friends and family. As a caregiver, you can only provide compassionate care to your loved one if you care for yourself as well. Be sure to identify your stress triggers and determine your limits. When it’s time for you to take a break, take one. Use that time to decompress so that when you return, you’re able to be kind and patient with your loved one. You’re allowed to feel your emotions and to give yourself grace. 

Additional Care and Support for People Living with Parkinson’s

Caring for a loved one with Parkinson’s Disease can be difficult to navigate on your own. At HomeWell, our compassionate caregivers offer a specialized care approach that helps your loved one with Parkinson’s navigate the disease and enhance their quality of life while aging in place. We also help provide you with peace of mind by taking some responsibilities off your plate, enabling you to truly focus on spending time with them for as long as you can. 

Sources:

  1. Parkinson’s Disease: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments | National Institute on Aging 
  2. Parkinson’s Exercise Recommendations | Parkinsons.org 
  3. Nutrition and PD | Parkinsons.org 

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