• nishitaagarwal

Care for Parkinson's Patient: Daily Care checklist



Parkinson's disease is a progressive disorder that affects the nervous system and the parts of the body controlled by the nerves. Symptoms start to show slowly. The first symptom may be a barely noticeable tremor in just one hand.


In the early stages of Parkinson's disease, your facial expressions may be affected. Your arms may not swing when you walk. Your speech may become soft or slurry. Parkinson's disease symptoms worsen as your condition progresses over time.


Although Parkinson's disease can't be cured, medications might significantly improve your symptoms.



Grooming

  • Make it easy for the patient - to groom themselves. You can help them brush their teeth - if their hands shake or are a bit stiff from Parkinson's. If you help with flossing or brushing, try not to touch the back of their tongue, to prevent their gagging.

  • Always keep a small towel handy if drooling is an issue. Make sure you change this towel daily - or even hourly if required.

  • Use an electric shaver for facial hair - if required. Help them do it - if hand shaking is an issue.


Bathing

  • Tub baths can be quite hard and may cause falls - so try to avoid them. Use a shower or use a bucket to bathe.

  • While they are bathing, have them sit on a shower stool, use a hand-held showerhead, and hold a grab bar.

  • After a shower, wrap them up in an absorbent terry cloth robe. This will make it easier to dry themselves - and won't require patting.


Getting Dressed

  • Make sure clothes are easy to put on, avoid clothes with buttons - or which are difficult to put on. Use elastics and velcro instead of lace and buttons.

  • Avoid shoes with rubber soles. They can cause tripping.

  • Help them dress if necessary. If they like to dress on their own - allow them to do so while they are seated.


Eating

  • Serve fiber - like whole grains, bran cereals, fruits and vegetables - to prevent constipation, a common Parkinson's issue. If they are used to a low-fiber diet, add fiber slowly.

  • Serve a calcium-rich food at least three times a day to prevent osteoporosis - a common concern with patients with Parkinson's. Recurrent falls can lead to fractures - therefore calcium intake should be good to avoid fractures. Dairy foods like cheese and vitamin D-fortified milk and yogurt are good choices.

  • If they have trouble swallowing - feed them moist, soft foods. Avoid foods that crumble easily, like crackers. If eating is tiring, fix smaller meals more often.


Activities

  • Make sure you engage them in activities - so they don't feel isolated. Make their hobbies - easier to do for them. If they like playing instruments - help them by taking them to concerts, if they like playing - you can take them to VR events, it is important to keep them occupied.

  • Relaxation activities to reduce stress should be included in day to day routine. Listening to music and relaxation-guided imagery may help ease tremors. You can learn guided imagery from books, CDs, or DVDs.

  • Besides the daily exercise that their doctor probably suggests, urge them to exercise their face muscles, jaw, and mouth. Sing or read out loud (using big lip movements) or make faces.

Attend Doctors’ Appointments

  • Even if, at the beginning, your loved one is capable of getting themselves to appointments, make it a point to go along to ask questions to their doctor. Take a notebook along to take notes - and to share your unique perspective on symptoms or other issues that your loved one may not bring up, such as sleeping problems or mood disorders. Keep a running list of questions to bring with you.

  • It is also helpful to keep a calendar (physical or digital) to keep track of physician and therapy appointments. You can also use a calendar to track medications and keep notes regarding any side effects.

Be Observant of Signs

  • When it comes to Parkinson's disease - no two days are the same. You should watch out for changes in symptoms, abilities and moods. You should also carefully note your loved one’s changing abilities, especially after changes in medication or therapy.

  • A person with Parkinson’s may not be able to do plenty that he or she did before, such as working, doing things around the house, going out with you or with friends, and undertaking normal activities.

  • It can be tough to remind your loved one of things he or she can’t safely do - like go to work alone, or go out with friends.

Be Flexible in Routine

  • Parkinson's symptoms may vary over time and even from day to day. Be patient and flexible if, say, you had plans to do something that are now being derailed by a bad day.

  • Try to give your loved one the best possible chance to do certain tasks independently before stepping in to assist out of frustration.

  • Consider the feasibility and timing of removing some tasks from either your own or your loved one’s plate. For example, should you take over bill paying? Or hire someone to make food? Talk to each other, too, to avoid miscommunication and resentment over changes you may propose.

Be Sure Medications Are Taken

  • If your loved one is forgetting their medicine - their recovery or condition may get impacted.

  • To avoid making mistakes or nag your loved one, develop a tool you both agree works, such as a smartphone reminder or a hard-to-miss wall calendar. Being consistent with medication can make a difference in both of your lives.

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