Providing Care for Loved Ones with Parkinson’s Disease

WalkingNavigating Parkinson’s disease (PD) can be full of surprises for a caregiver and their loved one with the disease. The progression of PD is different for every person, and there can be good days and bad days, with the latter requiring more care. A caregiver must try to be aware of when to step back and let their loved one do what they can for themselves, and then be ready to step in and offer help when needed. It can be stressful and exhausting for both.

In the early stages of the disease, symptoms can often be controlled with medication, so it’s important to make your doctor aware of any changes that may require an increase in dosage, or a change of medication based on worsening symptoms or possible side effects. At this stage, your loved one’s mental health might be a primary concern as they adjust to their diagnosis. Anti-depressants and therapy may be prescribed. Another symptom that can present itself either early or late in the disease is cognitive difficulties similar to Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases. These can also complicate caregiving.

Levels of Care

As the disease progresses, so will the need for care and assistance with daily activities. As the caregiver, you can expect your loved one to need help with tasks such as moving safely from place to place, bathing, dressing, grooming, toileting, and eating. He may also need help with cognitive tasks such as handling their finances. The help required may begin to exceed your mental and physical abilities.

The best time to learn about in-home care options is before outside help is needed. In-home care can help family caregivers to avoid burnout and maintain their own well-being.

In addition to medication, there are services that can help to slow the effects of the disease, including nutrition counseling, physical, occupational, speech, and swallowing therapy. Your doctor can refer you to specialists or a home care agency like Dakota Home Care that will bring the help to you. Managing PD is an ongoing learning curve that needs to be modified to meet both the needs of the person with PD and the caregiver.

Fall Prevention

The risk of falling can begin early after the symptoms of PD appear. There are many things you can do to make the surroundings safer, such as removing loose rugs, taping down cords, and moving furniture to make a clear path from one point in the home to another. It can also be helpful to have a professional evaluate your loved one’s needs and home to see what other safety measures can be put in place or properly used, such as:

  • An emergency call button that is worn around the neck.
  • Safe utilization of assistive devices like specific walkers, canes, sara lifts or Hoyer lifts.
  • Hands on assistance with getting up from a chair, a bed, or a fall.
  • Creating a safe bathing or toileting environment.
  • Assistance with mobility, transfers, and repositioning.

There are also things you can do to help your loved one move safely. Check that your loved one’s feet are placed firmly underneath before standing. People with PD often need reminders to take long steps as automatic motions become more difficult to perform. Keep cues short and simple, for example by saying, “Big steps.” An occupational therapist who comes to your home can give you more tips and exercises that will help mobility.

In-Home Care Assistance

Dakota Home Care has trained professionals who can provide a wide range of services for caregivers that also enhance the quality of life for the person with PD. Contact us online or call us at (877) 691-0015 to schedule an in-home visit with one of our registered nurses. Together we’ll evaluate which of these services will be most helpful:

  • Companion care for socialization, friendship, conversation, emotional support, and safety.
  • Hygiene assistance and incontinence care.
  • Support for both dressing and grooming tasks.
  • Planning and preparing meals according to dietary needs.
  • Assistance with eating and drinking.
  • Transportation to doctor visits or meaningful activities.
  • Time and dosage medication reminders.
  • Encouraging exercise, therapy regimens and tracking progress toward care plan goals.
  • Household chores and laundry.
  • Shopping and other household errands.
  • Respite care.

 Make Care Plans

Learn about in-home care options. Know how you’ll get help in the event of a fall. Schedule appointments for a time when the person is rested and medications are working well. Be realistic about what you can and can’t do. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Dakota Home Care offers in-home care services in Bismarck, Fargo, Mandan, and nearby areas. Make calling us part of your plans for a future with Parkinson’s Disease.

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