For people with Parkinson’s disease, many everyday activities become more of a challenge as abilities decline. The primary symptoms of Parkinson’s, such as tremor, stiffness, impaired balance, difficulty walking, and postural instability, all contribute to the difficulty of independently carrying out activities of daily living, such as meal preparation, household chores, getting dressed, and bathing. Fortunately, adapting the living environment to the changing abilities and needs of someone with Parkinson’s disease can increase their comfort, safety, and quality of life, as well as helping them to preserve independence for as long as possible.
If you’ve ever had an injury or illness (and everyone has!) you know how something like a sprained ankle or a bad cold can interfere with everyday tasks: going up and down stairs, working in the garden, or making yourself understood over the phone, for example. Now imagine living with Parkinson’s disease, the symptoms of which profoundly affect a person’s mobility, coordination, and mental and emotional state. The degeneration that occurs as a result of Parkinson’s can be incredibly frustrating and disheartening for those suffering from the disease, as well as for their loved ones and caregivers. Especially in the bathroom, as intimate of a space as there is, being unable to perform basic self-care can take a toll. However, with careful planning and attention to detail, the bathroom of a person living with Parkinson’s can be adapted to allow them maximum safety, privacy, and comfort.
The first steps in adjusting the living space to suit the needs of someone with Parkinson’s are also the most basic. Making sure that personal care items—toilet paper, soap, lotions, toothbrushes, denture cleaners, and combs—are in easy reach is essential. Make sure that everything is accessible, without the need to stoop, bend, or reach overhead. Installing easy-to-grasp pulls and handles on cabinets and drawers can be very helpful. Because soap is slippery and easily dropped, trying a bar of soap inside a length of nylon stocking and tying it to a grab bar in the shower is a good idea. As Parkinson’s progresses and people have more trouble walking and keeping their balance, grab bars placed in showers or tubs and near toilets and sinks are a safety necessity. Make sure that bath mats are non-slip to prevent falls, and install a shower seat or a non-slip mat in the shower. As a person’s cognitive abilities deteriorate, it can also be helpful to provide safety reminders, such as a piece of red tape on the “hot” tap, and a piece of blue tape to signal “cold.”
Edison Home Health Care is happy to advise and assist you or any loved one who seek appropriate care for Parkinson problems. Give us a call at 888-311-1142, or fill out a contact form and we will respond shortly.