Getting the news that a loved one has Parkinson’s disease can be life altering. Yet after the diagnosis, there is much to be done – not the least of which is determining the best care. Because Parkinson’s affects the body’s nervous system, typical senior care isn’t usually a fit. That doesn’t mean, however, that your loved one can’t continue with their familiar life at home, within comfortable surroundings.
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive, neurological disorder that primarily affects movement but sometimes cognition as well. Parkinson’s disease results from the deterioration of nerve cells in the basal ganglia area of the brain.
As with many seniors, those with Parkinson’s typically want to be as independent as possible, and the need for assistance can vary greatly depending on the stage of the disease, and how well it’s managed with medication.
Individuals with Parkinson’s disease may rely on caregivers for a wide range of support, often supporting their day-to-day activities, such as helping them get dressed, moving from room to room, assisting with feeding, or accompanying them to doctor’s appointments. As the disease progresses, the needs will likely change. A caregiver can help with this adjustment too, as well as helping the entire family adjust to both the initial diagnosis and the various stages of the disease.
A top priority for caregiving for Parkinson’s disease is to attend doctor’s appointments. Having the caregiver’s input can also help the doctor understand how the disease is progressing and how the treatments are working. On the other hand, having a caregiver present can also help ensure your loved one is following the doctor’s instructions.
A caregiver will often be responsible for medication management as well. This may mean filling prescription orders, loading pill dispensers, and keeping track of dosages and schedules. It can also mean, perhaps more importantly, watching for and noting any side effects your loved one may experience. The caregiver can further coordinate with the doctor to ensure these are well-managed, and to generally be their health care advocate.
As Parkinson’s disease progresses, it can often become more difficult – physically, mentally and emotionally – to manage. Symptoms may include difficulty walking or balancing, hallucinations, dementia, and severe depression. At this point in particular, having a trusted, professional caregiver, becomes even more essential for your loved one, but a caregiver can provide a great deal of support to the family members as well.
Maintaining your connection and communication with a loved one with Parkinson’s can be the most challenging, but also rewarding aspect of caregiving. As the disease progresses, roles change – with your loved one changing from head of their own household to someone almost entirely dependent on care. As your loved one’s condition changes, so may your needs. Working with a caregiver to provide for your loved one in their home, can help relieve a good deal of stress, so you can focus on your family relationship.
Whether a couple of hours per day or around-the-clock care, 1776 Senior Care offers caregivers specialized in care for individuals with Parkinson’s disease. We are your partner in your loved one’s caregiving. Call 1776 Senior Care to schedule an In-Home Assessment at 630.469.4515.