Parkinson’s is a progressive degenerative disease of the nervous system. In its initial stages, it primarily affects movement, with sufferers experiencing body tremors, stiffness, slowness of movement, stooped posture, impaired balance, and changes in everything from facial expression to handwriting. As it progresses, psychiatric symptoms such as depression and sleep disturbances, as well as digestive, urinary, and skin problems, are also common.
For formerly able-bodied, independent individuals, Parkinson’s symptoms can take a psychological, as well as physical, toll. Adjusting to a progressive loss of bodily function and autonomy can be extremely stressful, adding to the difficulty of dealing with the disease and exacerbating symptoms. For individuals with Parkinson’s, as well as for their caregivers and loved ones, dealing with this stress is an important way to promote quality of life.
One way of dealing with stress is allowing the person with Parkinson’s to remain proactive in their own care. Encouraging them to make decisions for long-term care while they are still relatively independent can give them a sense of greater self-determination, and reduce worries about a complete loss of control over their life as the disease progresses. Facilitating independent living by adapting the living environment to changing abilities is another great way to ease the transition to greater disability. Making adjustments in the home to ease tasks like meal preparation and bathing, and to make moving around safer for someone with compromised walking ability, is a great way to help someone with Parkinson’s stay in the comfort of their home for as long as possible.
In addition to promoting independence for as long as is appropriate, there are many other ways for people with Parkinson’s to reduce their stress. Spending time outdoors and engaging in moderate exercise (as physical condition allows) are powerful ways to encourage a sense of wellbeing and alleviate stress. Taking part in favorite hobbies and maintaining an active social life are also tremendously beneficial. Some Parkinson’s sufferers find Parkinson’s support groups helpful, as they allow people to share worries, fears, and coping strategies in a safe and supportive environment with people who understand the challenges they are facing first-hand.
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.