April is National Parkinson’s Awareness Month! Get Involved.
There is still much we don’t understand about Parkinson’s Disease, which can make it extremely confusing when our loved one is diagnosed with this progressive neurological disorder. There’s also no way to comfortably predict how your loved one will develop symptoms and how quickly it will progress.
Parkinson’s Disease most notably causes motor skill issues. The area of the brain which produces dopamine, the chemical that tells our body to move, is impaired, so those affected may eventually struggle to walk, talk, or even swallow. For some, the disease is minor and they can live independently with it for years. For others, it can come on quickly and totally impair their ability to function or care for themselves.
The warning signs of Parkinson’s Disease are shaking (usually in one limb or the jaw or face when the person is not actively moving), stiffness in the limbs, and slow movements. Other signs may involve a change in handwriting, poor posture, as well as blank facial expressions.
Parkinson’s Disease is diagnosed in about 60,000 Americans every year, and more than 10 million globally currently live with it. The vast majority of people that are diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease are over the age of 50, and the risk for it increases more with age. Men are also much more likely to develop it than women (1.5 times more).
Depending on the severity of your loved one’s Parkinson’s Disease, it can change whether they have home care or need to live in an assisted living facility. For many, living at home and independently will be ideal, but can sometimes be unsafe for them since the disease can seriously hamper their ability to move and care for themselves.
When considering assisted living facilities or retirement communities, make sure to pay attention to the layout of the building. Will it be easy for your loved one, if they have movement impairment, to get around the facility? Will they be able to participate in all activities and functions even if they require a wheelchair or a walker?
Also consider the staff. Do they have experience working with individuals with Parkinson’s Disease and understand how to help them maintain a level of socialization? Do their therapies and routines seem best able to support your loved one as their disease progresses?
As your loved one’s disease progresses, it’ll be important for you to pay attention to their symptoms and if any in particular are worsening. Since it impairs their movements, it may become the best option to transition them to an assisted care facility once it becomes too difficult for them to care for themselves or home care options don’t provide enough support.
The focus should be on helping your loved one thrive, even despite this complicated disease. Once your loved one is not able to independently care for themselves in their own home, the next step would be finding an assisted living facility that will cater specifically to their needs currently and can adapt to their needs in the future as well.
Need someone to talk to?
If you or a loved one is facing a difficult decision about assisted living, the staff at Bellaire at Devonshire are here to help! We are always available to discuss options, address common questions and concerns, and would encourage you to schedule a visit to help put your mind at ease.