4 Daily Challenges of Advancing Parkinson's Disease (And How to Help With the Condition)
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4 Daily Challenges of Advancing Parkinson's Disease (And How to Help With the Condition)

4 Daily Challenges of Advancing Parkinson's Disease (And How to Help With the Condition)

When a person is diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease (PD), it can be overwhelming. Living with the condition isn't easy, and the challenges that come along with PD —from finding a diagnosis to dealing with cognitive changes to accessing resources— may seem daunting if you don't know what to expect. In this article, we'll explore four daily challenges of living with PD, as well as how family caregivers and home care providers can help those affected by the condition cope.


What is Parkinson's Disease?

Parkinson's Disease is a chronic progressive neurological condition that affects movement, balance, and coordination. It's caused by a decrease in the production of dopamine within the brain. Symptoms can vary from person to person, but may include tremors or shaking movements, slowed movement, rigidity or stiffness of muscles, postural instability and impaired balance, loss of facial expression, difficulty speaking or swallowing, changes in handwriting style and size, depression, anxiety, and fatigue. According to the National Parkinson Foundation (NPF), approximately 10 million people live with PD worldwide. 


Challenge #1: Finding a Diagnosis

One of the biggest challenges facing people with Parkinson's Disease is finding an accurate diagnosis. Symptoms can be subtle and may include slowness in motion, stiffness, difficulty walking or balancing, trembling in hands or feet, and changes in speech. It's important to get a medical evaluation if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, as the right treatment will depend on identifying PD correctly. Unfortunately, there is no single test for diagnosing PD. Misdiagnosis can occur when all factors are not taken into consideration which may lead to receiving inadequate care over time.


Challenge #2: Treating the Symptoms

Once a diagnosis is confirmed, the next challenge for those living with PD is managing symptoms. Treatment options often involve medication to increase dopamine production in the brain to restore muscle function, physical therapy, exercise to help maintain balance and strength, and speech therapy for improved communication. Alternative approaches such as occupational therapies can be beneficial, focusing on strategies that enhance independence and maximize daily functioning. Family caregivers and home care providers can play an important role in helping people stay consistent with treatment plans, providing motivation and education about their condition so they are best equipped to take charge of their health. 


Challenge #3: Dealing with Cognitive Changes

Another challenge of living with Parkinson's Disease is the cognitive changes that may occur over time. This can include impairment of executive functions like multitasking, problem-solving, and decision-making, loss of short-term memory, and a reduced attention span. It's important to be aware of these potential cognitive changes and have strategies in place to help combat them such as staying organized with calendars or lists, scheduling tasks according to individual abilities, having an advocate for medical appointments, creating visual reminders for meals or medications, and utilizing assistive technology such as mobile applications or voice recognition software. 


Challenge #4: Addressing Mobility Problems

Mobility is another common challenge for those living with PD. The three most frequent movement problems associated with the condition are bradykinesia (slowness in initiating and executing movements), tremors (rhythmic involuntary muscle movements), and rigidity (stiffness of the torso or limbs). Home care providers can help people worried by these symptoms gain confidence through safe exercise activities such as yoga, tai chi, swimming, or walking. At-home caregivers can also assist in using mobility aids like wheelchairs, walkers, or motorized scooters to enhance independence during daily tasks. 


What's Next? 

Advancing Parkinson's Disease can certainly be difficult but, with the right support, a person can stay positive and cope better. Family caregivers and home care providers can empower those affected by PD to learn more about the condition, find new treatments, advocate for their needs in various settings, and create meaningful memories that will last even in life's toughest moments. If you or your elderly loved one live in Adrian, Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Jackson, Dexter, or Hillsdale, reach out to Senior Helpers Adrian. Our professional caregivers offer in-home care and companionship, alongside services like light housekeeping, medication reminders, and more. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you take better care of your loved ones!