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How to Care for an Older Adult with Parkinson’s Disease

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To provide the best care for an aging parent with Parkinson’s, caregivers need to understand the disease. The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are unique, and caregivers need to be prepared for them. Here are a few tips for caring for a senior with Parkinson’s. 

Provide Assistance with Walking

Some of the most common signs of Parkinson’s disease include muscle rigidity, poor balance, and tremors. These symptoms impact mobility, and you may need to provide assistance for your loved one. In the early stages of the disease, your loved one may simply walk more slowly than normal. Your loved one’s gait may be shuffling, and he or she might drag one foot. As muscle control and balance worsens, your loved one may be at risk for falls and injuries. Seniors with Parkinson’s don’t always have the instinctive reflexes needed to prevent a fall. At the beginning, try to give your loved one as much independence as possible. Let your loved one walk independently, even if his or her gait is slow. As the condition starts to worsen, you may need to provide assistive devices or lend an arm as your loved one walks across a room. Walkers and canes can help seniors with Parkinson’s stay mobile for as long as possible. 

Caring for a senior loved one can be challenging for families who don’t have expertise or professional training in home care, but this challenge doesn’t have to be faced alone. Family caregivers can turn to Fort Myers Home Care Assistance for the help they need. We provide high-quality live-in and respite care as well as comprehensive Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care.

Offer Help with Dressing 

Tremors are among the most common symptoms of Parkinson’s. Frequent tremors usually affect the hands at first, and they can spread to other areas of the body as the disease progresses. These movements aren’t entirely uncontrollable, and there are therapies that make tremors more manageable. Nonetheless, tremors impact motor coordination, which can make it difficult for seniors with Parkinson’s to perform daily activities like getting dressed or brushing their teeth. To keep your loved one independent, invest in assistive devices that help him or her pull buttons through holes and zip up zippers. If these devices don’t work, find clothing that has closures made of Velcro, which can be opened and closed with minimal assistance. 

If your aging loved one needs occasional help with bathing, grooming, cooking, or other basic household tasks, or if you need time to attend to important personal matters, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of live-in and respite care. Fort Myers seniors can maintain their independence while living at home with the help of our reliable respite caregivers.

Consider Safety Precautions 

Seniors with Parkinson’s are at even greater risk for slips and falls than the average older adult. If your loved one is still mobile, make sure his or her living space is safe. Clear all clutter from the floor, and make sure rugs are firmly secured. Arrange the furniture so it doesn’t impede pathways, and try to move the largest item toward the wall. 

Assist with Meal Prep and Eating 

As with getting dressed in the morning, decreased motor coordination can affect the ability to eat. The inability to eat is further complicated by the fact that Parkinson’s can affect the throat muscles, making swallowing painful or difficult. If your loved one wants to eat independently, purchase utensils specially designed for Parkinson’s. These utensils usually have grips, which helps seniors hold on tight, and they’re weighted, which counteracts the effects of tremors. For seniors who have difficulty swallowing, soft food is ideal. Serve yogurt instead of breakfast cereal, and choose mashed potatoes instead of baked potatoes.

Older adults with serious health issues can benefit from professional in-home care. If you are the primary caregiver for a senior family member and are looking for professional senior home care, Fort Myers Home Care Assistance should be your top choice. Our dedicated and compassionate caregivers are committed to helping older adults manage their health and enjoy a higher quality of life in the golden years. Call us at 239.449.4701 to schedule a free in-home consultation.