From Symptoms to Care for Parkinson’s Disease


Parkinson's FoundationApril is Parkinson’s Awareness Month. Commonly known for its movement or motor-related symptoms, such as tremors, abnormally slow movements, shaking or lack of facial expression, involuntary movements, or freezing, Parkinson’s disease also has non-motor symptoms like apathy, depression, sleep behavior disorders, loss of sense of smell and cognitive impairment. 

Symptoms generally develop slowly over years and the progression of symptoms can vary from one person to another due to the diversity of the disease. 

As an educational partner of the Parkinson’s Foundation, SYNERGY HomeCare is sharing tips for living a full life with Parkinson’s disease. They include:

  • You can improve your disease at every stage by ensuring that you stay fit and receive adequate sleep and proper nutrition. Exercise is particularly important for improving mobility, stamina, mood and quality of life.
  • According to the Parkinson’s Outcomes Project, the largest clinical study of Parkinson’s disease through our Centers of Excellence network, increasing physical activity to at least 2.5 hours a week can slow the decline in quality of life. 
  • Caregivers can provide support in staying active as well as keeping up with prescribed physical therapy exercises, occupational therapy recommended daily living modifications or adaptations and speech exercises. This can include gait and balance training, resistance training and regular exercise.
  • It can take a long time to be officially diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Symptoms to be aware of include slowness of movement and rigidity; difficulty with balance, swallowing, chewing, and speaking; cognitive impairment and dementia; and mood disorders.
  • Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is progressive so symptoms will evolve over time. People in the early stages of Parkinson’s typically require only emotional support. As the disease progresses, people with Parkinson’s may need more help staying on top of doctor’s appointments and medication reminders.
  • Keep a calendar of the Parkinson’s progression and medical trips. Note particular days where you first notice additional symptoms. Note what days they start a particular medication. 

It’s important to let someone with Parkinson’s disease maintain independence for as long as possible, but as the disease progresses, some activities of daily living may require some assistance. 

  • Movement
  • Tremors can make walking difficult
    • Take care of the home, clear things off the floors, arrange furniture in a way that promotes easy access
  • Encourage doctor recommended exercises as well as facial exercises
    • Activities like singing, dancing, or reading aloud
  • Basic grooming
    • Daily hygiene is greatly affected by hand tremors
      • Opt for an electric toothbrush over a manual one
      • Opt for an electric razor over a manual one
    • Bathing
      • Stand-in showers are much easier to access than tubs
      • Shower stools also help
  • Dressing
    • Opt for clothes that are easier to put on
      • Elastic waistbands
      • Velcro
      • Dress the side most affected first
      • Avoid button-ups and laces
  • Diet
    • A side effect of Parkinson’s is constipation
      • Get plenty of fiber
    • Osteoporosis (fragile bones) is another side effect
      • Get plenty of calcium
    • Some PD medications can’t be fully absorbed with protein
      • If using these medications, try to avoid protein within 3-4 hours of taking them
    • Moist, soft foods are preferred over tougher foods or snacks like crackers
      • If eating is hard, space out more light meals throughout the day opposed to three big meals

Ensuring a high quality of life with Parkinson’s is possible thanks to a complementary approach that includes medication, regular activity and modifications for activities of daily living. Professional caregivers with SYNERGY HomeCare can provide respite care for family caregivers or more regular day-to-day support for a loved one with Parkinson’s that is personalized to each client. 
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