Has your loved one been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease (PD)? While any diagnosis can be scary, know that PD itself is not fatal. With early detection and proper care, your senior can still experience many years of fulfillment.
Parkinson’s Disease is a brain disorder that leads to shaking, stiffness, and difficulty with walking, balance, and coordination. Symptoms usually begin gradually and worsen over time. As the disease progresses, people may have difficulty walking and talking. While speech and movements are affected, often the patients retain full mental capacity and can participate in their own care plan.
Parkinson’s Disease has Four Main Symptoms
- Tremor (trembling) in hands, arms, legs, jaw, or head
- Stiffness of the limbs and trunk
- Slowness of movement sharpness
- Impaired balance and coordination, sometimes leading to falls
Ancillary to the Main Symptoms, You May See the Following in your Loved One:
- Difficulty swallowing, chewing, and speaking
- Less animated facial expressions
- Sleep disruption
- Changed handwriting
- Urinary issues
- Skin problems
- Soft speech
The progression of PD can be slow, and the initial signs may be very subtle. There is no test for the disease, so attention to detail is important to help your physician make a diagnosis.
Source: National Institute on Aging and ParkinsonsDisease.net
Your Care Team
As with many of the diseases that can affect our older adults, staying active and pursuing a healthy diet can slow the progression of the disease. Finding an occupational therapist who is skilled in the needs of PD patients will be important to help modify daily activities like eating and drinking, chores, and management of technology and can help your loved one continue to live a productive life. Over half of patients will experience a level of depression connected with the diagnosis. Involving a therapist early in the diagnosis can help them handle the emotional challenges. Your loved one can also benefit from including a movement disorder specialist on their care team. This is a neurologist that specializes in movement disorders such as Parkinson’s. These specialists usually ensure that they are on the cutting edge of new therapies for PD.
Source: The Michael J Fox Foundation
Diet for Parkinson’s Disease
- Drink six glasses of water per day to help medications break down more efficiently.
- Limit sugar, alcohol, and caffeine in the evening to help eliminate barriers to sleep.
- Ensure adequate vitamin D to help with bone health.
- Fiber-rich foods will help deter constipation.
- Include nuts like walnuts and cashews to promote brain health.
- Incorporate berries like blueberries and strawberries for their antioxidant properties.
- Eating foods like salmon, tuna, and dark leafy vegetables, which contain anti-inflammatory properties for our brains.
Source: Parkinson’s Foundation