Houston Notes Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month

April 1, 2013
Caregivers have support options when coping with Parkinson's Disease

Caregivers have support options when coping with Parkinson’s Disease

As a family caregiver for a Parkinson’s Disease patient, you know that a regimen of treatment and therapies is important for your aging parent.  April is a great time to take a moment to educate your community and support team about symptoms, ongoing treatment and therapies.

Parkinson’s Disease is a chronic and progressive neurological disorder that affects the patient’s entire family and caregiving team.  April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month and today is the best time to talk about PD.

Your community may be aware of some of the most common and widely known primary motor symptoms such as:

  • tremors in the hands, arms, legs, face or jaw
  • a slowness of body movement also known as bradykinesia
  • a rigidity and stiffness of limbs and trunks
  • impaired balance and coordination.

And, many Parkinson’s Disease patients and their caregivers are familiar with secondary motor symptoms such as:

  • freezing of the gait
  • micrographia or smaller handwriting in response to movement restrictions
  • mask-like expressions or “Parkinson’s Mask” where non-verbal facial expressions are limited

There are many symptoms and many theories on the cause or onset of Parkinson’s Disease while no known cure is available for the 60,o000 patients diagnosed each year.  However, a combination of medications, lifestyle changes and therapies may help control some of the symptoms of the disease.

A family caregiver and support team can help by encouraging active participation in the following complementary therapies:

Speech Therapy for Parkinson’s Disease Patients

Speech therapy can help increase voice volume, improve word pronunciation, improve clarity of speech, provide swallowing techniques and may help with facial expression.

Physical Therapy Helps with Mobility

Physical therapy can help increase strength, endurance and movement.  Additionally, the therapy can improve flexibility, gait and balance issues while addressing freezing and fall prevention.  A customized daily exercise program may have in keeping your aging parent or loved one mobile and engaged.

Occupational Therapy Increases Independence

A trained therapist can help assist your loved one in addressing concerns over activities of daily living such as dressing, grooming or eating.  An evaluation of your home for safety and ease of mobility may provide information on minor changes in the home that can enhance an independent lifestyle.

And, if you are seeking more information on what is happening in the research and treatment path of Parkinson’s Disease, stay tuned to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation.  “Medical Therapies:  What’s in the Parkinson’s Pipeline” is an upcoming web-based seminar featuring Dr. Kapil D. Sethi, M.D., F.R.C.P., professor of Neurology and Director of the Movement Disorders Program at Georgia Health Sciences University (GHSU) in Augusta, Georgia.  Please visit www.pdf.org for more details on  this April 16 program.

We encourage you to spend some time in April building your support team, educating your community and arming yourself with the most current information about Parkinson’s Disease.

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