Understanding Parkinson’s disease and how homecare services can help

According to statistics, there are nearly 100,000 people living with Parkinson’s in Canada. This number is expected to double by the year 2016. Parkinson is caused by the death of cells in the brain that produce a chemical called dopamine. Dopamine is a very important chemical in the brain that affects anything from a person’s mood to their movement and coordination. When the production of dopamine in the brain is decreased, messages sent to the brain from other parts of the body during movement are slowed, eventually leaving the afflicted person unable to control any movement at all.

Unfortunately, Parkinson’s disease is a progressive brain disorder that has no cure. The disease causes symptoms to increase and become more debilitating over time. While some of the symptoms can be managed with medication or therapy, for the most part, seniors with Parkinson’s disease will be given medication to keep them comfortable and they will require assistance if they want to remain living in their home.

Some people are never officially diagnosed with Parkinson’s as other conditions and the effects of aging can cause the same loss of movement symptom. Early signs of Parkinson’s include shaky hands that eventually move up to affect the arms, slow movement or sporadic movement, shuffling when walking, and feeling tired or weak when trying to move. Eventually the person affected will have difficulty walking and maintaining their balance while walking. Often seniors start to lean forward or back while walking in an attempt to balance themselves. Parkinson’s can drastically affect a person’s ability to live alone or with their elderly spouse safely. They are more prone to falls and become unable to complete tasks that require good motor skills such as cooking or feeding themselves. Homecare is a great option to provide the assistance and supervision they need to continue and live at their own home.

Anxiety and depression are also common symptoms due to the lack of dopamine production. Sleep problems may occur including disturbances in sleep patterns and vivid dreams or nightmares. Eventually the disease affects the memory and thinking processes resulting in memory loss and an inability to think quickly.  Advanced Parkinson’s can cause difficulty swallowing, dizziness when trying to stand as well as incontinence. The only treatments that can improve the debilitating symptoms are medications that help increase the benefit of the small amount of dopamine that the brain still produces. There are some side effects to the use of dopamine including hallucinations, a reverse in sleeping patterns and general confusion. A caregiver or a homecare agency can keep a record of any new or worsening symptoms and alert the family of any of the symptoms appear or a change is noticed. It is important to remember that in some cases, the caregiver will notice something new before the family and will be able to handle it before it escalates and cause more problems or a decrease in the parent or loved ones condition.

Providing homecare for a parent or loved one with Parkinson’s can allow them to stay in their familiar home environment longer that they would have been able to without assistance. A homecare provider can assist with meal preparation, help supervise or assist with daily activities affected by the disease as well as help with exercise and other activities to help slow the progression of the disease. Having someone there to assist can also help alleviate some of the anxiety and depression associated with treatment as there is someone present who can not only keep them company, but help them with all their needs as well. Keeping their normal routine is one of the best ways to keep away many side effects of both Parkinson’s and the medications given to treat its symptoms.

If you are looking for a home care provider for your parent or loved one who needs assistance due to Parkinson’s disease, Carefect homecare services can provide non-medical in-home senior care. We provide services such as housekeeping and personal care, as well as meal preparation and help with physical activities from exercise to getting around the house. Carefect homecare services offers a free in-home assessment that will allows you and your parent or loved one to discuss the options and services that can be provided for them. The Carefect team is available to provide your parent or loved one with the care they need, as well as peace of mind for you knowing they are being well cared for.