According to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, nearly one million Americans have developed Parkinson’s, a chronic and progressive movement disorder that predominantly affects the elderly but can strike any age.
“At Bethesda Senior Living, we see the impact of Parkinson’s on our residents and their families every day in our assisted living and memory care communities,” said Larry Smith, president of Bethesda Senior Living.
“We know how difficult it can be for family members to watch a loved one as the disease progresses,” he continued. “They see the tremors and the physical losses. Our team members are trained to help manage the cognitive changes and emotional challenges that accompany the physical symptoms, which often go unnoticed as the disease progresses.”
Symptoms and Progression
Parkinson’s involves the malfunction and death of the brain’s vital neurons that release dopamine, the chemical that helps us control movement in the body. As the disease progresses, the brain produces less and less dopamine, which impairs a person’s ability to control movement.
Symptoms vary by person, but early signs include tremor in the hands, arms, legs, jaw and face; slowness of movement; limb stiffness; and difficulties with gait and balance.
As the disease progresses, other symptoms may include dementia or confusion, fatigue, sleep disturbances, depression, fear or anxiety, and other cognitive changes.
Treatment and Care
While there is no known cure for Parkinson’s, a number of strategies can help mitigate some of the effects from the disease. If you suspect you or a loved one may be developing Parkinson’s, it is crucial that you see your physician, who will likely refer you to a neurologist.
“Because the disease is progressive, symptoms generally worsen over time,” Smith said. “In our communities, a resident in the early stages may simply need assisted living—help with personal needs, medication management, nursing supervision and the like.”
Eating well and getting plenty of exercise throughout life—particularly in middle age—can help stave off the disease’s onset, and several medications may help manage the symptoms.
Maintaining independence is often a primary goal, but it’s important to remember that you can remain independent even in an assisted living community. At Bethesda Senior Living, for instance, we do everything we can to ensure our residents come and go as they are able.
Another important consideration is that Parkinson’s disease affects more than the person living with it. Spouses, children, siblings and other loved ones may feel the burden of responsibility, so it is important for loved ones to build a support network and take time for self-care.
Assistance at Bethesda Senior Living
As Parkinson’s progresses, residents may benefit from our specialized memory care communities. In addition to basic assistance, we provide specialized therapies to help with communication and keep the mind sharp. We also offer numerous activities such as Tai Chi and painting classes to help boost the physical and emotional wellbeing of our residents.
“We want our residents to enjoy the highest quality of life as they are able,” Smith said. “To that end, we are here to serve.”
Posted on Thu, May 12, 2016
by Becca H