Understanding Parkinson’s Disease

  |     |   Senior Living

Approximately 60,000 people are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease each year in the United States. The diagnosis of a progressive disease can be an overwhelming change for a family to face, but there are steps that can help improve the quality of life for someone living with Parkinson’s disease.

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive nervous system disorder, meaning that it generally starts with small symptoms that worsen over time. Because the disease affects movement, it often begins with tremors, stiffness or slowness of movement. It will affect balance, speech and even automatic movements such as blinking or smiling. As the condition progresses, it often leads to secondary problems such as dementia and difficulty with chewing, swallowing, and the entire digestive process.

These problems lead to dehydration and poor nutrition which in turn accelerate the progression of the disease. Proper diet, hydration, and exercise can help control symptoms and even slow the progression of the disease by managing these secondary problems.

The digestive system of a person with Parkinson’s disease slows down, often leading to constipation. A diet rich in fiber from fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes can help combat this. Additionally, many older people struggle to stay hydrated, and many medications used to treat Parkinson’s disease have dehydrating effects. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day will assist with digestive issues in addition to preventing dehydration-related issues like kidney problems, confusion and balance problems. People living with Parkinson’s disease may need a great deal of assistance managing their diet and hydration throughout the day. There may come a time that full-time care beyond what loved ones can provide becomes necessary.

A proper diet for a person living with Parkinson’s disease also considers medication interference. A common drug used to treat Parkinson’s disease, for example, might not be absorbed well if taken a short time after a high-protein meal. Make sure to consult your doctor and pharmacist for advice about how to time medications around meals. Caretakers at an assisted living community will be able to help manage these needs.

Digestive problems, weakness, balance problems, dementia and many other issues that come along with Parkinson’s disease can also be combated with exercise. Exercise increases brain elasticity, builds strength and improves balance. As the disease progresses, the symptoms often cause people to fear falling or other injury and adopt a more sedentary lifestyle out of caution. Even without formal exercise, keeping up with as many normal chores and activities as possible, such as yardwork, washing dishes and folding laundry, helps to slow the degeneration of motor symptoms. Physical therapy and occupational therapy can also be great tools for maintaining mobility.

At some point in the progression of Parkinson’s disease, you may find that your loved one requires a level of care you can no longer provide. Consider moving them to an assisted living community like Cogir Senior Living. Cogir Senior Living is committed to maintaining the health and mobility of residents living with neurological disease. We provide fitness programs and onsite physical and occupational therapists. Our menus include anti-inflammatory items and accommodate any special dietary needs. We enrich the lives of our residents with creative and social activities, and many locations also offer special memory care communities. We are experts at providing seniors with safety and well-being.

Schedule a tour, join us for a meal, and experience the Cogir difference.

Sources: 

“Parkinson’s Disease: Symptoms and Causes.” Mayo Clinic, Mar. 2022. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/parkinsons-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20376055?utm_source=Google&utm_medium=abstract&utm_content=Parkinsons-disease&utm_campaign=Knowledge-panel

“Fighting Parkinson’s Disease with Exercise and Diet.” John Hopkins Medicine, 2022. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/parkinsons-disease/fighting-parkinson-disease-with-exercise-and-diet

“Is a Care Facility Needed?” Parkinson Foundation, 2022. https://www.parkinson.org/Living-with-Parkinsons/For-Caregivers/Outside-Help/Is-a-Care-Facility-Needed

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