Supporting a Loved One with Parkinson's Disease

April 19, 2021
Supporting a Loved One with Parkinson's Disease

April is Parkinson's Disease Awareness Month. Have one of your loved ones recently been diagnosed? If so, there are ways you can show your support and help them manage their Parkinson's disease symptoms.

Keep reading to learn more about Parkinson's disease and what you can do to help those you love.

What Is Parkinson's Disease?

Parkinson's disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects the production of dopamine neurons in the brain. Each year, around 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

Symptoms typically develop slowly and the progression varies. Common Parkinson's disease symptoms include:

  • Balance problems
  • Tremors, typically at rest, in the hands or feet
  • Limb stiffness and slow movement
  • Uncontrollable movements while sleeping
  • Cognitive impairment

The cause of this disease is still unknown. There is no cure, but there are various treatment options, including surgery and medications. 

Parkinson's Disease Treatment

You will work with your doctor to find recommended neuro-rehab therapies that help treat the symptoms. The doctor will also most likely prescribe dopaminergic medications to combat low dopamine levels.

Most therapies improve symptoms but are unable, at this time, to stop or halt the disease progression.

Understand Your Role

Keep doing your research on the disease and educate yourself. Make sure you understand your role to help your relative.

If you are not the primary caregiver, find out what you can do to help that person, whether it's helping around the house, bringing meals, or providing respite care.

You should also make sure your loved one is getting high-quality neuro-rehab therapy. This helps manage symptoms like speech, mobility, and balance. This therapy can also help improve the overall well-being of a person with PD.

Help Them Stay Active

Parkinson's can gain strength if a person is sedentary, so one of the biggest ways you can help is to help the person stay active. Go outside and take a walk together. Find ways to keep the person moving and set simple goals to keep them active, which is also good for their mind and mentality.

Help Them With Their Diet

Diet is extremely important. Your relative needs to eat all the proper nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, lipids, proteins, and carbohydrates. There is no specific Parkinson's diet, but some doctors recommend a plant-based diet or even the Mediterranean diet for proper nutrition.

Take Time to Listen

It can be frustrating living with Parkinson's because it's degenerative and also unpredictable. It isn't uncommon for people with PD to develop depression and anxiety. You can provide a lot of emotional support just by lending a friendly ear and encouraging the person to talk about their emotions while you listen.

Be Patient

Your loved one will probably have issues from time to time walking and speaking clearly. You will need to be patient and give them longer to respond in your conversation. Try not to rush the person because they will feel frustrated.

If walking starts to become too difficult, encourage using a wheelchair or walker. For times when speech is difficult, use a notepad, email, or messaging.

Join a Parkinson's Disease Support Group

You can learn a lot about PD and get support by joining a local support group. You can find one in your area, like the Huntsville Parkinson's Disease Group. The American Parkinson Disease Association has several educational and informational programs for supporting people with Parkinson's disease.

Get Help Today

By following these simple steps, you can support your loved one with their  Parkinson's disease diagnosis. Remember to do your research on the disease, join a local support group, and be patient. 

Are looking for neuro therapy to help improve Parkinson's symptoms and improve your loved one's well-being? If so, we are here for you. Contact us today to see how our therapists can help.