There is no one test to diagnose Parkinson’s disease — doctors must rule out all other causes of the symptoms in order to diagnose it. Parkinson’s disease causes a breakdown of certain brain cells, which lead to symptoms throughout the entire body. Symptoms start out mild and may be confined to only one side of the body. Over time, they tend to worsen and may spread to the other side.
Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease can include:
Tremors or shaking in one or both hands
- Slow, labored movement
- Stiff, rigid muscles
- Stooped posture
- Balance problems
- Loss of smiling, blinking or other automatic movements
- Speech may become quiet, slurred, hesitant, rushed or hard to understand
- Writing may become very small and difficult to read
- Changes in thinking / dementia
- Changes in emotional state
- Problems swallowing or chewing
- Sleep disturbances
- Bladder problems, including incontinence or difficulty urinating
- Dizziness upon standing
How to Help
According to the Mayo clinic, these supportive approaches may help minimize symptoms, maximize functioning, or improve wellness and quality of life.
- Consume a nutritional diet high in fiber and fluids
- Exercise regularly to increase strength, flexibility, balance and emotional well-being
- Enjoy gentle massage for pain relief
- Tai Chi or Yoga for flexibility and mental clarity
- Meditation for stress relief
- Pet therapy for companionship
- Social support for holistic wellness
Elder Care Providers can Make a Difference
Professional elder care aides can make a big difference in the quality of life for people living with Parkinson’s disease. Because it’s a progressive condition, it can be expected to gradually worsen over time. It may be helpful to start out with just a little support and add more as the person’s needs increase.
Getting to know and trust the elder care aide can help the person with Parkinson’s feel safer as he or she starts to need more assistance.
Help with Housework
Elder care aides often start out by assisting around the house with laundry, making the bed, or picking up clutter. These types of chores can tax an individual with Parkinson’s due to their limited energy. They can also become unsafe as their balance is more challenged.
Support with Eating and Drinking
Elder care aides can help prepare nutritious meals and encourage or assist with healthy fluid intake. As the person with Parkinson’s has more trouble chewing or swallowing, the elder care aide can assist them to eat safely by cutting up their food into small bites, or preparing food that they are able to safely swallow.
Assistance with Personal Care
Elder care aides can assist with personal care that can be challenging for people with Parkinson’s disease, including dressing, bathing and going to the toilet.
Of all the helpful things elder care aides can do, one of the most supportive is simple companionship. Dealing with the changes of Parkinson’s can be discouraging and people may feel depressed or overwhelmed. Having someone available who can:
- help them to get outside for some fresh air,
- turn on some music,
- or just be together
This can make a big difference for the person who is struggling.
Professional elder care aides have an amazing ability to connect with seniors who may be going through a hard time. Whether for a few hours a week or for 24 hour per day support, elder care can truly impact the quality of life of a senior with Parkinson’s disease.