Caregiving and Parkinson's Disease
– Tremors or trembling in hands, arms, legs, and face
– Rigidity or stiffness of the legs and trunk
– Slowness of movement
– Inability to move
– Impaired balance and coordination
– A shuffling gait
– Stooped posture
– Foot pain and toe curling
– Difficulty swallowing or chewing
There are 5 stages of Parkinson’s Disease that are used to describe the severity of the disease for each individual.
Stage 1- Mild symptoms on one side of the body only. Changes in posture, locomotion, and facial expression.
Stage 2- Interruption of daily living. Symptoms on both sides of the body and changes to posture and gait.
Stage 3- Moderately severe symptoms. Difficulty walking and standing and significant slowing of body movement.
Stage 4-Severe symptoms. Very limited ability to walk. Tremor may be less than earlier stages.
Stage 5- Invalid. Cannot stand of walk, requiring constant nursing care
When providing care for someone who has Parkinson’s disease, it is important to keep the following guidelines in mind.
Dressing- Allow plenty of time; loose fitting clothes and Velcro enclosures are helpful
Mobility- Encouraging them to rock side to side and/or imaging they are stepping over something can help them get moving; Remove floor rugs and be aware of sharp edges on furniture.
Eating- Allow plenty of time; Puree foods if necessary and encourage adequate consumption of fluids
There are also number of assistive devices that can help make daily living more comfortable for someone with Parkinson’s Disease:
- Specially designed utensils
- Canes, walkers, and wheelchairs
- Bathroom grab bars
- Door pulls instead of knobs
- Rope pulls on drawers