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How to Help a Senior with Parkinson’s

by Kendall VanBlarcom
How to Help a Senior with Parkinson’s

If you are taking care of a loved one with Parkinson’s, you are not alone. Here are a few suggestions on how to help a senior with Parkinson’s.

Educate Yourself

When there is a new diagnosis, often families don’t know where to turn. Getting all the information you can may help. Particularly if you are feeling a lack of control. Talk to a health care professional about exercise options, learn about various medications and treatments, and learn about the progression of Parkinson’s, so you will be aware of what changes may occur over time. In addition, reach out to support groups in your area, often there are other individuals experiencing what you are experiencing nearby. They can help lead you to resources.

Take Care of Yourself

Your day-to-day life will change when you are living with someone with Parkinson’s. It’s important you take care of yourself so you can provide the best support for the person you love. Talking through your problems with a counselor can be very healing. Being kind to yourself, and having your own thoughts and feelings heard, is essential to a healthy home environment.

Enjoy Time Together

Parkinson’s affects motor skills and you may not be able to have the lifestyle with your loved one that you’ve had in the past. Do your best to accept and understand that an individual with Parkinson’s is living with a disease that can change daily. There may be days when a walk around the neighborhood is possible, but there will likely be other days when you’ll need to help them with basic tasks, such as getting dressed. So, when an opportunity to do something you enjoy together is possible and available, enjoy it.

Adapt Your Home

It is essential to have your home be a safe place, and to help a senior with Parkinson’s you will likely need to make some adjustments. Open pathways are important and as physical skills deteriorate, walkers or wheelchairs may be needed. Other things to keep in mind is that floor rugs can be tripping hazards along with standing lamps. Also, it is helpful to remove statues and side tables that could inhibit movement. Making adjustments to your home before they are absolutely needed provides more safety and allows everyone to acclimate to the new layout over a period of time.

When to Explore Assisted Living

In the later stages of Parkinson’s, a family might opt for the transition to an assisted living facility. There are many factors that go into a decision to move. When possible, families should try to make a decision that everyone can support. Often, when a facility is found that is trusted and viable financially, it can be a healthy option. It is estimated over half of individuals who are diagnosed with Parkinson’s will, at some point, develop dementia in connection with the disease. For some, it is possible to have home care, perhaps with a professional who can come to help out, but for others, assisted living is the best solution.

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