April is National Parkinson's Awareness Month and a good time to take a closer look at this disease and how it could affect your parent. Around 60,000 U.S. adults are diagnosed with Parkinson's every year. A handful of cases are diagnosed before the age of 50, but 96% do not develop it until after middle age. Here's what your family needs to know about Parkinson's.
There Are Movement and Non-Movement Symptoms
Parkinson's disease is referred to as a movement disorder because of the tremors and stiffness it causes. These are the primary symptoms, but there are others to watch for. When diagnosing Parkinson's, doctors look for two of three key symptoms.
- Slowed movements, referred to as Bradykinesia, that's caused by impaired voluntary motor control
There are other symptoms like involuntary movements of the legs, face, arms, and trunk of the body. Unexplained muscle cramps, a shuffling gait, balance issues, and sudden freezing are other signs.
Some signs of Parkinson's do not relate to movements at all. They include:
- Changes to vision
- Insomnia and fatigue
- Delusions and hallucinations
- Loss of bladder control
- Loss of smell
- Small, cramped handwriting
- Speech issues
Treatments Are Handled on a Case-by-Case Basis
There isn't a standard treatment plan for Parkinson's. The options depend on your mom or dad's symptoms. What's important to know is that there isn't a cure. Once they have Parkinson's, therapy, medications, dietary/lifestyle changes, and surgeries may all be used to help manage the disease.
Your mom or dad needs to take medications as directed. Missing a dose or two can bring back frustrating symptoms. It will take time to adjust. If it's likely that your parent will forget to take medications at a certain time of day, medication reminders should be considered.
Occupational and physical therapy sessions are often used to help strengthen muscles and joints and adjust to difficulties with ambulation and balance. Encouragement from a family member or caregiver is a crucial part of therapy. Keep your parent motivated and join in if it helps your parent feel less alone.
Seek Supportive Services Early
The stress of a Parkinson's diagnosis affects the entire family. Your mom or dad is going to be alarmed that they have the disease. You and the rest of the family will be unsure how best to help. You might not have the time needed to help your parent.
Home care services are an ideal solution. Hire caregivers to help out as often as your mom or dad needs. Caregivers can help with ambulation, housekeeping, personal care, and transportation. They can cook meals and remind your mom or dad to take medications on time.
The sooner you arrange home care, the easier it is for your family to adjust to the diagnosis and focus on spending quality time together. Call a home care agency to get started.
If you or an aging loved one are considering non-medical in-home care in Jacksonville, FL, call Griswold Home Care
and speak to one of our caring staff members today. Call (904) 342-6040