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Prepare for Care: Parkinson's Disease

Simplified Homecare Solutions for Parkinson's Caregiving

Caring for a person diagnosed with Parkinson's disease can be a big undertaking. However, taking things one day at a time, using
Parkinson's home care supplies and reaching out for assistance can make caregiving successful.

Look at the home
The layout and availability of tools in your home will be essential to providing the best care for those with PD. This includes having the right Parkinson’s supplies. Consider remodeling projects or Parkinson's home safety products and Parkinson's mobility aids that would allow individuals with PD to move safely around the home and tend to everyday tasks.

The following supplies should be accessible to an individual with PD:

·     Grab bars

·     Devices to help a person reach, such as reachers

·     Electric bed or mattress

·     Sliding boards

·     Wheelchairs and canes for Parkinson's

Caregivers can speak to physicians or PD caregiver support groups about what Parkinson's homecare products or remodeling projects might offer the most benefit. For instance, here are some ways caregivers can adapt spaces in the home:

·     Create clear paths for moving around the home

·     Install handrails for Parkinson's along walls, hallways and stairs

·     Purchase lights that turn and off by touch or that react to sound

·     Invest in chairs for Parkinson's with straight backs, armrests and firm seats

·     In the bathroom, put in an elevated toilet seat and safety rails

Reach out for help

Because PD is a chronic and progressive condition, the level of care that affected individuals require may grow over time. For instance, they may become severely disabled, while others may only experience minor problems with mobility. Tremors are the most common symptom of PD and their unpredictability can affect daily life. 

Rather than attempt to tackle all these responsibilities alone from the very beginning, enlist help from others to help ease the pressure.

Conduct research

Research additional PD symptoms, so that as the disease progresses, these will not catch caregivers off guard. Common symptoms may include:

·     mental health changes

·     sleep disruptions

·     skin issues

·     problems swallowing, chewing and speaking.

Researchers are exploring possible environmental factors, such as toxins, and genetic factors, like defective genes, that could increase a person's likelihood of developing PD.

If caregivers come across any information that piques their interest but is not addressed on government websites, they should speak to their family members’ doctors. 

Keep and update notes

Caregivers can keep a notebook that tracks the various updates, medications, treatments, doctors and their contact information, and questions regarding their family members’ condition.

The first page should document the following:

1.   Any health conditions that an individual has besides PD

2.   All medications the individual is taking

3.   Any allergies to food or medications

4.   Names and contact information for their primary care physician, neurologist and any other specialists being seen

5.   Any other pertinent notes that may be relevant in an emergency situation

Following pages should contain the caregiver's observances. This can include changes in behavior, symptoms or emotional well-being. Below are some key notes that are essential to jot down - keeping a daily track record of these can give your loved ones' physicians an idea of how the condition is progressing and whether treatment plans needs to be adjusted.

1.   Are the tremors increasing in severity? How long do they last? Describe them.

2.   Does the individual report any new symptoms?

3.   Rank pain on scale of 1 to 10.

4.   Did an episode occur? If so, how long did it last and how long did it take to recover?

5.   Keep a schedule of when medications were taken, and whether it deviated from what was prescribed.

Because each individual with PD is different and can experience changes in his or her condition day to day, it is crucial for caregivers to stay on top of symptoms. As PD progresses, the treatment plan may have to change to accommodate new symptoms that were not present before, making a daily log a helpful tool for health care providers.

The last section of the log should serve as appointment notes. Date each entry and include the doctor's name. Caregivers should write down any questions they have prior to the appointment.

Be mindful of mental well-being
Caregivers should especially be on the look out for symptoms of depression and other mental changes that a person with PD may experience. Some red flag symptoms include:

·     difficulty concentrating,

·     fatigue, problems sleeping,

·     over or under-eating

If any of these symptoms are exhibited, caregivers should get in touch with health care professionals immediately.

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