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Living Successfully with Parkinson’s Disease

Finding your way in today’s world can seem like a confusing endeavor at best. Now, picture trying to do that after you have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. After the initial shock of the diagnosis, all sorts of unknowns and questions can race through your mind. It must seem like an impossibility, but there is hope. We here at HPFY might be able to answer some of these questions that you may have and help you succeed while living with Parkinson’s disease.

Living Successfully with Parkinson’s Disease

Exactly What Is Parkinson’s Disease?

I’m sure you have heard of Parkinson’s disease, but do you truly understand what it is and what those who have been diagnosed with it must now deal with? Basically, Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder that progressively attacks the nervous system. Typically, symptoms start gradually with tremors (usually in one hand) and can progress to stiffness or slowing of movement. These symptoms worsen as the condition progresses over time. As with many other things, symptoms can vary between patients. The Mayo Clinic identifies some of the signs/symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and they include:

  • Tremors: This shaking typically starts in a limb or hand and may tremble even when you’re at rest. Your thumb and forefinger may rub back and forth, this is known as a pill-rolling tremor.
  • Slowed Movement: This is also known as bradykinesia and can make simple tasks difficult. Your stride may get shorter and rising out of a chair may become more difficult.
  • Rigid Muscles: Your muscles may become stiff anywhere on your body and can even become painful and limit your range of motion.
  • Impaired Posture/Balance: Parkinson’s disease can impair your balance and make you more unsteady and even cause you to become hunched over.
  • Loss of Automatic Movements: Involuntary movements such as blinking, smiling, and even swinging your arms while walking can become compromised with Parkinson’s disease.
  • Speech Changes: You may begin to speak more softly or even slur your words and possibly hesitate before speaking. A more monotone type of speech is possible as opposed to having the usual verbal intonations.
  • Writing Changes: Between tremors and slowed movement, the ability to write may become impaired. Writing may become difficult and your handwriting may become smaller.

Parkinson’s disease is the result of nerve cells called neurons in the brain breaking down and dying and the loss of these neurons diminish the production of dopamine in the brain. Abnormal brain activity is linked to these diminished levels of dopamine. Unfortunately, the cause of Parkinson’s disease is unknown, but there are some factors that may play a role and these can include genetics and environmental factors.

 

Help for You

We all know the negatives associated with Parkinson’s disease, but how and what can we do in order to live a productive life with this disease? Along with a number of support groups, there are some medical aids that can help you or your loved one maintain a semblance of their quality of life. Some of these include:

  • Medline Insulated Mug with Tumbler Lid: Designed to make drinking easier, this insulated mug with lid requires the user to suck the liquid through the mouthpiece. This can minimize spills and drops in those with tremors associated with Parkinson’s disease.
  • Drive Standard Telescoping Full-Length Side Rail: Constructed of 1 inch steel, this side rail easily adjusts up or down with a spring release. This side rail fits most hospital and home care beds and can prevent patients from falling out of bed. As someone who has shared a hospital room with a Parkinson’s patient, I can attest to the need of this railing.
  • Medline Guardian Safe T Pole Replacement Parts: This heavy-duty, durable pole has a white finish that is attractive and provides a secure grip for the user when standing or sitting. It adjusts from 7ft 8.25” to 8ft 2.5” and has a diameter of 1.5 inches. It does not require any tools for installation and can even help with stairs.
  • Standers CouchCane with Organizer Pouch: This folding cane can help the user transition from a sitting position to standing utilizing its gripping rubber pads that give stability to the user and protects flooring. Made from solid steel construction and a powder finish, it has a 300 pound capacity and can be adjusted from 29 in. to 32 in.
  • Essential Medical Toilet Seat Riser with Removable Arms: Patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease can have difficulty getting on or off the commode. This riser allows the user to add 3 ½ inches to the height of their seat and the removable arms improve stability for the user. Included with the riser is the hardware needed for installation (which is easy) and it has a weight capacity of 300 pounds.
  • Medline Locking Bath Tub Grab Bar: Our bathrooms can be one of the more dangerous rooms in the house and this grab bar offers a step through clamp design providing an unobstructed entrance or exit to the tub. This can make bathing safer and more secure for those with Parkinson’s disease. The smooth, latex-free white finish is attractive and this grab bar can support up to 250 pounds.
  • Good Grips Button Hook: As Parkinson’s disease progresses, the ability to do fine motor skill tasks may become more difficult. Dressing, and in particular, buttoning a shirt can become hard for those suffering from Parkinson’s disease. This button hook has a soft, cushioned grip made from a rubber like material that can slip around most buttons and make dressing just a little bit easier.
 

Being successful while living with Parkinson’s disease may seem like a pipe dream. It turns out that just a little bit of planning and understanding of what is available can make things more manageable. Work with your physical therapist, who understand your limitations, and design a home environment that allows you to maintain some independence and extend your quality of life.

 

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