Being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease can, understandably, be concerning for any older adult receiving this news. This is also true for family caregivers who will be providing care for a senior loved one with this progressive condition, since it can produce a mix of physical and cognitive symptoms. Below are some tips to keep in mind when caring for a loved one with Parkinson’s disease.
Be Involved and Proactive
The symptoms associated with Parkinson’s don’t always appear in a predictable order. For example, some seniors develop movement problems early on, while others have these issues later. You can be proactive during the early stages of the condition by:
• Gathering as much information as you can
• Going to doctors’ appointments with your loved one so you can both ask questions
• Encouraging your loved one to participate in exercise programs and other types of therapy that can minimize movement and stability issues
• Learning what to expect with behavioral and physical changes
Many seniors in the early stages of Parkinson’s are able to live on their own, but they may need a bit of help with the everyday tasks of life, such as exercising and preparing nutritious meals. Aging adults who require assistance with the tasks of daily living can benefit from reliable elderly home care. Families trust Home Care Assistance to provide the high-quality care their elderly loved ones need and deserve. Our caregivers are trained to help seniors prevent and manage serious illnesses and encourage them to make healthier decisions as they age.
Reduce Fall Risks in the Home
At some point, seniors with Parkinson’s typically have difficulty with balance and mobility. Impaired mobility increases the risk of falling, which can be especially serious for seniors already affected by age-related bone changes. Make an effort to remove fall hazards from your loved one’s home by picking up loose rugs and rearranging furniture so it’s not blocking common pathways in the home.
Soften Foods to Make Swallowing Easier
Parkinson’s often affects throat muscles enough to cause difficulties with chewing and swallowing. If your loved one begins to have issues with eating or digestion, encourage him or her to take a sip of water after each bite. Sauces can also be added to foods to make them softer. Other “softening aids” include gravy and melted butter. Cutting up meats and other tougher foods can be helpful as well. Also, learn how to do the Heimlich maneuver so you can provide immediate assistance if your loved one starts to choke on a piece of food.
Living with a serious health condition can make it challenging for seniors to age in place. However, they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional live-in care. Columbus seniors can benefit from assistance with meal prep, bathing, transportation to the doctor’s office, medication reminders, and much more.
Prepare Healthy Meals
Healthy eating can minimize the cell loss that contributes to certain Parkinson’s symptoms. Drinking plenty of water is also encouraged to ease digestive difficulties some seniors with Parkinson’s experience. The Parkinson’s Foundation recommends eating the following foods to maintain overall health and wellbeing as the condition progresses:
• Whole grains and vegetables
• Low-fat dairy products
• Lean meat, beans, and other protein-rich foods
• Fatty fish, nuts, olive oil, and other sources of beneficial fats
Look for Signs of Depression and Mood Changes
Watch your loved one carefully for signs of increased anxiety and depression. Mood changes like this sometimes develop over time. As with all Parkinson’s-related symptoms, mood changes are different for everyone with the condition. Signs of depression and similar mood changes to look out for include:
• Increased irritability
• Difficulty sleeping
• Being overly concerned or worried
• A loss of interest in things that were previously enjoyable
Medication may control or manage mood issues. Some seniors also respond well to therapy and similar complementary treatments.
Caring for a loved one with Parkinson’s can be extremely challenging, and a compassionate professional caregiver can be a wonderful source of support. If your elderly loved one is living with a serious medical condition and needs help managing the tasks of daily living, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a Columbus elder care agency you can trust. Our caregivers are available 24/7, there are no hidden fees in our contracts, and we offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee on all of our in-home care services. Trust Home Care Assistance to provide high-quality compassionate, professional care for your loved one. If your parent needs help with the challenges of aging, call one of our compassionate Care Managers today at (614) 481-8888.