Our Care for Parkinson’s Disease
No two people with Parkinson’s disease have the exact same symptoms; that is why a Plan of Care is developed for each individual. As caregivers experienced in care for PD, we understand what your loved one is going through — that puts us in the perfect position to communicate those symptoms effectively to our client’s neurologist or primary care doctor, thus making a tremendous contribution to your loved one’s PD treatment.
We know exercise for individuals with PD is an important part of their treatment and we incorporate them into their plan of care…but we don’t stop there. Our programs incorporate forms of exercise that are fun and don’t seem like work. Whether it is our seven foot putting green, bowling or magnetic darts, our client’s look forward to these activities and don’t even realize they are exercising. (Ask us how we do these activities with safety first as our top priority). In addition, we work closely with Physical Therapists, continuing their routines on off days.
Parkinson’s disease is a chronic neurological disorder with no known cure. Medical experts have come up with PD treatments that effectively alleviate symptoms. PD medication works on the biochemistry of the brain — very precise dosages must be delivered at precise times. Taking Parkinson’s medication even a few minutes late can result in debilitating symptoms like muscle rigidity and tremors. Making sure our client’s take their medication on time and as directed, monitoring their medications, monitoring their vitals, reporting and documenting our clients’ condition and/or changes are other important parts of our role as caregivers.
What Our Caregivers Watch For:
- Any increase in symptoms. If our client is taking their medication properly but the number or severity of their symptoms is increasing, we report it to their doctor. They might need to be put on different Parkinson’s medication or may need to take a higher dose of their current Parkinson’s medication. Specific symptoms we watch for include tremors (uncontrollable shaking) and rigidity (trouble moving the limbs). We report to their doctor if our client is having problems walking, talking, swallowing, or remembering information.
- Changes in Mood. Depression is a problem for at least half of all individuals with Parkinson’s — it’s so prevalent that doctors suspect depression might be a true symptom of the disease. They also are known to suffer from periods of denial, anxiety, and stress. We pay attention to these moods and talk about them with our families and their doctor.
- Sleep problems. Individuals with Parkinson’s tend to have trouble with sleep. The disease and their Parkinson’s medication can make them incredibly drowsy during the day and then keep them up all night. Fatigue can worsen symptoms. Their doctor might prescribe a sleep aid or adjust their Parkinson’s medication. We help by keeping the patient active during the day and by establishing a regular bedtime routine that promotes quality sleep.
- Swallowing problems/Excess Salvia. Many people with Parkinson’s have difficulty swallowing, a condition known as dysphagia – this is a result of weakening muscles due to changes in the brain. It is important to know the warning signs of a swallowing disorder. Some people may appear to be eating and drinking normally, but they are not. Early intervention and proper management of swallowing problems are crucial to preventing major complications. In our experience we have also recognized excess salvia in our Parkinson’s clients. We like to incorporate the use of mouth swabs into their daily oral care. This helps with excess saliva and is comforting without breaking down the tissue in their mouth.
- Fall Risk. Falling is one of the most common and dangerous complications associated with Parkinson’s. There are numerous reasons for this including balance problems, gait freezing, slowness, stiffness, fatigue and low blood pressure. We work with our clients on balance; monitor their gait and vital signs and incorporate the use of appropriate ambulation aids into our client’s daily routines.
At You’re First we know how important patience and good care really is for individuals with Parkinson’s. Our hands-on experience and training allows our care providers to recognize the best way we can assist our clients and their families.