Providing Care for Parkinson’s Disease
Approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease every year, according to the Parkinson’s Foundation. It is vital to understand the disease and how it progresses to provide care and support for your or your loved one with Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s disease affects the central nervous system and leads to movement disorder, loss of muscle coordination, and decreased mental capacity. Typically affecting adults over 40, symptoms include muscle rigidity, tremors, trouble with balance, speech and facial impairment, and dementia. Parkinson’s disease is chronic and progressive, so there is no cure. Some symptoms can be managed, but the disease gets worse over time.
How to Determine Level of Care
Tremors begin, and others notice changes in patient’s movement or facial expressions. The patient may experience frustration with tasks of daily living but is able to maintain independence. Symptoms are generally mild and affect one side of the body, and light assistance from family and friends is usually required. Caregivers are not always necessary at this stage.
Symptoms now affect both sides of the body. Changes in movement and expressions are more evident. Tasks of daily living become more difficult, and physical activities are more demanding on the patient. A part-time caregiver is beneficial at this point if family or friends cannot provide light assistance.
The patient will experience drastic slowing of physical movements. Walking becomes difficult, and balance is challenged. Part-time care is recommended at this stage because the patient needs assistance with many physical activities, such as personal grooming, running errands, and preparing meals.
Symptoms are severe at this point, so the patient cannot live alone or act independently. Full-time care is necessary at this stage to perform tasks of daily living. Live-in care may be necessary if the patient lives alone. The caregiver also provides important emotional support needed by the patient.
The patient is fully dependent on a caregiver at this point and needs around-the-clock care. Little physical activity is possible at this stage, so constant nursing care is needed.