Parkinson’s Disease: Care Strategies and Tips

If you have a loved one who has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, you may find yourself contemplating the role of a carer. This decision is far from easy, but it may be the most beneficial option considering the unique circumstances of your loved one’s condition.

Parkinson’s disease is relatively common, affecting well over 10 million people worldwide. This includes many notable figures such as Muhammad Ali, Billy Connolly, and Michael J. Fox, who have publicly shared their experiences with the disease and have actively worked to raise awareness about it.

Despite the prevalence of Parkinson’s, there remains a significant gap in the general understanding of how to care for those living with the disease. As the condition progresses, the challenges of providing effective care increase, often necessitating specialised Parkinson’s care from qualified professionals in a care home setting.

While many individuals with Parkinson’s can live independently for a considerable amount of time, there eventually comes a point when increased dependence on carers becomes inevitable for maintaining the best possible quality of life.

At Valorum, our team of experts is dedicated to providing exceptional care to individuals living with Parkinson’s disease across the country. For those who are committed to supporting their loved ones as they navigate this journey, here are some key ways to assist with their care:

  • Educate Yourself About Parkinson’s Disease: Understanding the symptoms, progression, and treatment options for Parkinson’s is crucial. This knowledge will help you anticipate your loved one’s needs and provide more effective support.
  • Create a Safe and Comfortable Environment: As Parkinson’s affects motor skills, ensuring the living space is safe and accessible is essential. This may involve removing tripping hazards, installing grab bars, and arranging furniture to allow for easy movement.
  • Encourage Regular Exercise: Physical activity can help manage symptoms and improve overall well-being. Encourage your loved one to engage in exercises suited to their abilities, such as walking, stretching, or specialised Parkinson’s exercise programs.
  • Support Medication Management: Keeping track of medications can be challenging. Help your loved one by organising their medications, setting reminders, and monitoring for any side effects.
  • Promote Healthy Eating Habits: A balanced diet can support overall health and manage symptoms. Work with a nutritionist if necessary to develop a diet plan that meets their specific needs.
  • Assist with Daily Activities: As the disease progresses, tasks such as dressing, bathing, and eating may become more difficult. Providing assistance with these activities while encouraging as much independence as possible is important.
  • Provide Emotional Support: Parkinson’s can take a toll on mental health. Be there to listen, offer encouragement, and seek professional help if needed to address anxiety, depression, or other emotional challenges.
  • Seek Professional Help When Necessary: As the disease advances, professional care may become necessary. Specialised Parkinson’s care teams, like those at Valorum, can offer the expertise and support needed to ensure your loved one’s quality of life.

Provide and stay on top of medical care

While there is currently no cure for Parkinson’s disease, a range of medical care options is available to manage its symptoms and improve the quality of life for those affected. As a carer, being organised and proactive in providing support is crucial to ensuring the best possible care for your loved one.

One key aspect of this support involves accompanying them to doctor’s appointments. This not only helps in ensuring they receive the necessary medical attention but also allows you to stay informed about their condition and any adjustments in their treatment plan. Keeping track of these appointments and any prescribed treatments is essential for effective caring.

Another critical responsibility is managing their medication. Ensuring that your loved one takes their medication regularly and on time can significantly impact the effectiveness of their treatment. A practical approach to this is arranging a pill box and organiser at the beginning of each week. This simple tool helps in arranging medications by day and time, making it easier to keep track. Additionally, using pill boxes and organisers with built-in reminders can further simplify this task, providing audible or visual cues to remind your loved one when it’s time to take their medication.

As Parkinson’s is a progressive disease, it is vital to continuously monitor your loved one’s condition. This involves being vigilant about any changes or worsening of symptoms. Regularly observing and noting any new developments can provide valuable information to their healthcare provider. Reporting these changes promptly ensures that the doctor can make informed decisions about adjustments to medication or changes in the type of care needed.

  • Accompanying to Appointments: Ensure they receive necessary medical attention and stay informed about their treatment plan.
  • Managing Medication: Organise a weekly pill box and consider using reminders to ensure regular medication intake.
  • Monitoring Condition: Vigilantly observe and report any changes in symptoms to their doctor for timely adjustments in care.

By staying organised and attentive to these aspects of care, you can significantly contribute to the well-being of your loved one living with Parkinson’s disease.

Be safety conscious around the home

Parkinson’s can have a big impact on the body’s mobility, weakening the muscles and causing balance to become a problem, which can increase the chances of an accident. Therefore it is important to be safety conscious around the house to limit the amount of risks that could cause injury. This can include:

Keeping all major walkways clear: Any busy thoroughfares in the home should be kept clear and have no trip hazards around them. Additionally, the floor in general should generally be kept clear, particularly when it comes to loose wires or anything where someone could trip.

  • Keep the house well lit: To reduce the risk of tripping even further, ensuring the house is well lit can also be important, particularly at night should they wish to visit the bathroom.
  • Reduce the risk of slipping: Laminate flooring and the bathroom can cause significant risks of slipping, so it’s important to think about the flooring you have in as well as having the right amenities in place in the bathroom to lower that risk. Skidproof mats are one option, while having handles in the bath and shower for support can also be. You may also wish to consider step-in shower and bath facilities or shower stools to make washing an easier activity.
  • Offer support around the house: Installing railings on both sides of the stairs, or a stair lift, as well as handles and bars for support across different parts of the house will provide respite to a person when they need it as they navigate their way through the home.

Simplify the day-to-day

Making the day as easy as possible can significantly reduce the difficulties a person may face as their motor functions decline due to Parkinson’s disease. Simplifying daily tasks not only encourages independence but also helps reduce stress, anxiety, and other negative emotions that can adversely affect mental health.

One effective way to achieve this is by ensuring that clothing is easy to put on and take off. Purchasing adaptive clothing designed with features like Velcro closures, elastic waistbands, and easy-to-grasp zippers can make dressing and undressing much simpler. Additionally, providing aids such as sock aids and long-handled shoehorns can further ease the process of getting dressed, allowing your loved one to maintain a level of independence.

Planning daily activities with ample time is another crucial strategy. By allowing plenty of time for tasks, there is no need to rush, which can reduce the stress and frustration often associated with time constraints. Whether it’s getting ready in the morning, washing the dishes, or engaging in daily exercise, having a relaxed schedule can make these activities more manageable and enjoyable.

  • Adaptive Clothing: Invest in clothing with features like Velcro closures and elastic waistbands to simplify dressing.
  • Dressing Aids: Use tools such as sock aids and long-handled shoehorns to assist with getting dressed.
  • Ample Planning: Allocate extra time for daily tasks to avoid rushing and reduce stress.

Speak to them and listen to their feelings

Finally, an important aspect of any care is to provide emotional support and, crucially, to listen to your loved one. Coping with the changes that Parkinson’s brings can be a traumatic experience, triggering a wide range of emotions. Therefore, offering support during this challenging time is essential.

Understanding the specific challenges that people with Parkinson’s face is a good starting point. Educating yourself about the disease and its impact can help you empathise and provide better support. Encouraging your loved one to engage with support groups can also be incredibly beneficial. These groups offer a space to process emotions, share experiences, and connect with others who are going through similar struggles. This sense of community can be instrumental in fostering a positive mindset and discovering coping strategies that work for them.

Moreover, showing your affection and maintaining a strong emotional connection is vital. While caring for someone with Parkinson’s can be demanding, it also offers an opportunity to strengthen the bond between you and your loved one. This emotional closeness can significantly enhance their quality of life and make the years living with Parkinson’s more bearable and meaningful.

  • Emotional Support: Actively listen and provide reassurance to help them cope with emotional changes.
  • Education and Empathy: Learn about Parkinson’s to understand their challenges better.
  • Support Groups: Encourage participation in groups for emotional processing and community connection.
  • Affection and Bonding: Show affection and strengthen your bond to improve their quality of life.

By focusing on these aspects, you can offer comprehensive support that addresses both the emotional and practical needs of your loved one living with Parkinson’s disease.

Struggling to care for a loved one with Parkinson’s disease?

If you need help with caring for a loved one who is living with Parkinson’s, at Valorum Care Group we have an expert team who are trained and qualified to provide the best care for people living with the progressive disease.

We provide residential care and assisted living for those with Parkinson’s and tailor our care and programmes to suit their needs. To find out more, get in touch with a member of our team and see how we can assist you and your loved one.

Get in touch today to discover how we can help you.