9 Care Tips to Keep Parkinson's Patients Safe Indoors and Outdoors

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9 Care Tips to Keep Parkinson's Patients Safe Indoors and Outdoors
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9 Care Tips to Keep Parkinson's Patients Safe Indoors and Outdoors

What's Parkinson's Disease (PD)?

The cause of Parkinson's disease still remains unclear, but it's widely believed to be associated with both genetic and environmental factors. Parkinson's disease (PD), is a chronic neurodegenerative disorder that affects the central nervous system, primarily impacting the motor system. According to the Parkinson's Foundation, Parkinson's disease symptoms are divided into two types. The first type is related to movement and is called movement-related (''motor'') symptoms. These include:

  • Tremors, primarily occurring at rest
  • Bradykinesia and reduced movement functionality
  • Muscle stiffness in the limbs
  • Gait and balance issues (unsteady posture)

The second type may be unrelated to movement, which is called unrelated to movement (''non-motor''), such as depression, anxiety, apathy, hallucinations, constipation, orthostatic hypotension, sleep disorders, loss of sense of smell, and a variety of cognitive impairments.

Can Parkinson's Disease be Cured?

As of now, there is no cure available, but there are supportive treatment options such as medication, lifestyle adjustments, and surgery. For patients and caregivers, aside from understanding the disease's causes, medical advancements, and treatment methods, such as the use of dopaminergic drugs being essential for successfully managing symptoms, it's also crucial to be aware of some lifestyle care tips. Whether you're a caregiver or a Parkinson's patient, the following care tips can be beneficial to you.

6 Care Tips to Help Parkinson’s Patients Stay Safe Indoors

1. Home Safety

Because Parkinson's patients may face mobility issues and balance problems, increasing their risk of accidents at home, here are some home safety care tips to reduce the risk of injury:

  • Remove potential tripping hazards, such as sharp furniture corners and wires.
  • Install handrails or guardrails at home, especially on stairs.
  • Use non-slip mats or rugs, especially on wet surfaces like in the bathroom and kitchen.

 2. Bathe Safely

Due to balance issues, muscle stiffness, and decreased coordination, it can be challenging for Parkinson’s patients to maintain stability on slippery surfaces. Therefore, please pay attention to the following aspects:

  • Non-slip measures: Ensure that the bathroom floor and bathtub surface have non-slip mats or non-slip flooring to reduce the risk of slipping.
  • Grab bars: Install grab bars where needed, such as next to the bathtub or inside the shower, to provide additional support and stability.
  • Temperature regulation: Ensure that the water temperature is suitable, which avoids water that is too hot or too cold to prevent scalding or discomfort.
  • Placement of items: Place bathing items, soap, etc., in easy-to-reach places, which avoids the need for excessive stretching or bending.
  • Seating: Consider using a bath lift chair in the shower to rest when needed or to prevent fatigue.
  • Proper timing: Choose to bathe at times when you feel best and most energetic to reduce fatigue and discomfort.
  • Ventilation: Ensure good ventilation in the bathroom to avoid discomfort from excessive steam.
  • Use of bath assistive tools: If necessary, consider using gripping tools, long-handled sponges, and other assistive devices to reduce the need for bending and stretching. Alternatively, consider using an electric bath lift chair to help you bathe more safely and independently.
  • Take it slow: Allow plenty of time for bathroom activities, avoiding rushing to reduce the risk of falls.
VOCIC AX07 electric bath lift chair

3. Daily Living Aids

You can also consider using some daily living aids to reduce the risk of injury:

  • A 3 wheel mobility scooter for indoor use: If you're concerned about navigating obstacles at home or if you lack the strength for daily activities, these mobility scooters can be helpful as they require minimal effort to control at home.
  • Lightweight electric wheelchair: For people experiencing dragging feet, mobility issues, or fatigue, an electric wheelchair can enable them to engage in meaningful activities without worrying about Parkinson's symptoms hindering their mobility.
  • Single point cane: A good supplement for those needing extra support to maintain balance while walking. Canes can also serve as visual cues, which encourage larger strides rather than shuffling steps.
  • Laser Cane: A single-point cane with a laser attachment that projects a red line in front of the user when the cane makes contact with the ground. It’s useful as a visual cue for individuals experiencing gait freezing, guiding them on where to step.
  • 4 wheel rollator walker: Provides support while walking and offers a seat for resting when needed.
  • Alternating air mattress: Consider using an alternating air mattress if you experience back pain or require prolonged bed rest. They help reduce the risk of pressure ulcers, promote blood circulation, and alleviate physical fatigue and discomfort.
VOCIC Z21 rollator walker

4. Eating and Nutrition

Late-period Parkinson's disease can lead to difficulties with eating and drinking. Therefore, it is recommended that you pay attention to the following aspects:

  • Offer easily consumable meals: Avoid textures that are tough, dry, or crumbly, which could pose challenges for swallowing.
  • Staying hydrated: Make sure that your loved one takes sips of fluids between consuming solid foods to ensure adequate hydration.
  • Regular vitamin supplements: While supplements like vitamin E don't actually aid in disease control, over time, vitamin E can enhance the immune system's function, helping the body to resist diseases and infections.
  • Avoid overeating: Although obesity itself isn't a cause of Parkinson's disease, it may become a limiting factor in mobility as the disease progresses.
  • Maintain a balanced diet: Ensure adequate intake of nutrients, including proteins, vitamins, and minerals, to maintain normal bodily functions and immune system operation.

5. Medication Management

Parkinson's disease medication is crucial, so please pay attention to the following care tips:

  • Keep medications in their original containers.
  • Keep a list of medications your loved one is taking nearby in case others need to administer them.
  • Bring this list to every doctor's appointment, especially if the doctor is unfamiliar with your situation.
  • Consider using a medication at a certain time of day or on certain days of the week to maintain a good system.
  • Inform other family members and friends about the medication schedule, especially if you are the only caregiver.
Seniors medication management

6. Professional Help

In addition to seeking professional assistance for physical therapy, it's also crucial to consider psychological therapy. Many Parkinson's patients may face psychological challenges due to brain changes, which can heighten the risk of anxiety and depression, exacerbating the condition. Therefore, there's no need to feel ashamed about seeking help from a professional therapist or family members. In fact, they likely want you to seek assistance because they're invested in seeing your health improve.

3 Care Tips to Help Parkinson’s Patients Stay Safe Outdoors

1. Exercise

Research suggests that regular exercise can lead to better treatment for Parkinson's patients. According to an expert from the International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society, the exercise benchmark can be moderate-intensity exercise five days a week, for about 30 minutes each day. Moderate intensity means you would feel slightly breathless while engaging in the activity and attempting to hold a conversation.

When exercising, aim for consistency and ensure you enjoy it. For example, you could ride a stationary bike twice a week, attend boxing classes twice a week, and join a hiking club in your community. This variety of activities benefits both your joints and brain. Exercise also reduces the risk of cognitive issues and dementia.

Meanwhile, you’d better consult your doctor and determine the intensity of your exercise based on your own situation.

Exercise with the help of a caregiver.

2. Lifestyle Changes

  • Prioritize your body’s health. This includes regular exercise, ensuring an adequate amount of sleep, staying mentally active by learning new things, and maintaining social connections.
  • Be positive. Persistent worries about having Parkinson's disease can disconnect you from the good things around you and your inner well-being. Make time for activities you enjoy and uplifting relationships to break free from worries.
  • Keep regular records, including emotional and physical abnormalities such as depression, urinary incontinence, etc. This is beneficial for understanding your condition and making necessary adjustments.

3. Traveling with Parkinson’s

  • Before traveling, talk to your Parkinson's specialist to ensure you have all the necessary medications.
  • Bring all Parkinson's medications and a hospital safety kit.
  • Seek assistance at the airport: You can inquire with the airport in advance and seek assistance from relevant personnel. You may need a doctor's written certification, so be sure to call the airline in advance.
  • Rent Parkinson’s living aids. Consult rental agencies online for information on prices and types, such as electric wheelchairs and travel mobility scooters. It's best to opt for foldable Parkinson’s living aids to make travel easier and reduce stress.
  • Call the hotel to inquire about accessibility and special accommodations.
  • Take medications according to your prescription when changing time zones. Follow the daily dosage intervals strictly when taking prescription drugs. Keep your medication alarms the same as when you're at home. If you have any questions, talk to your doctor.
  • Check your medical insurance. Be sure to consult your insurance company before traveling to understand your coverage.
Seniors travel with a cane

Care Tips to Help Parkinson’s Caregiver Health

About Your Patient

Caregivers not only need to understand the challenges Parkinson's disease poses for their loved ones, but also need to understand how to manage the treatment of Parkinson's disease. Some areas where caregivers can provide assistance include medication management, exercise and diet, stress reduction, and even issues related to travel.

About Caregivers Themselves

In addition to caring for Parkinson's patients, caregivers also need to pay attention to their own situation. Long-term caregiving can lead to physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion, such as extreme fatigue unrelated to sleep, unusual feelings of depression, and anger. If you experience similar issues, you can improve with the following care tips:

  • Acknowledge your feelings. Accept your feelings, including stress, anxiety, and depression. Don't suppress emotions; you can seek help from a professional psychologist.
  • Seek support and education. Look for support groups or community resources to share experiences with other caregivers.
  • Share the workload: Collaborate with professional caregivers to share caregiving responsibilities, reducing personal stress and burden. Also, tell your patient that you need adequate rest.
  • Regular relaxation: Schedule regular relaxation and downtime, whether through reading, listening to music, practicing yoga, etc., to relax your mind and body and maintain good mental health.
Caregiver support

Conclusion

While there's currently no cure for Parkinson's disease, maintaining a positive mindset, undergoing physical therapy, and understanding care tips can at least lead to a safer and healthier life. Some indoor care tips include ensuring home safety, bathing safely, purchasing daily living aids, focusing on eating and nutrition and managing medications, seeking professional help, and for outdoor care, incorporating exercise, lifestyle changes, and travel tips.

Caregivers, while looking after Parkinson's patients, might not only prioritize the patient's health but also their own physical and mental well-being. If issues arise, it's important to seek help promptly.

Furthermore, if you're in need of reliable Parkinson’s living aids, VOCIC is a great option. They offer a variety of living aids, earning praise from many users and assisting people with various conditions, such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), rheumatoid arthritis (RA) , and more.

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