Parkinson's is a slow, degenerative disease that results in stiff muscles, difficulty walking, and other movement-related issues over time. The first noticeable symptom of Parkinson's is usually a slight tremor. As the disease progresses you can experience difficulty walking which can advance into a typical "Parkinson's Gait" - shuffling, head facing downward, and little or no swinging of the arms. Freezing in mid-stride is also a common characteristic. Other symptoms related to Parkinson's include difficulty swallowing, loss of bowel control or constipation, cramped writing, dry skin and scalp, and excess salivation.
Some adjustments will need to be made, especially as the disease progresses. Here are some things you may want to consider doing:
PHYSICAL THERAPY-can help with adjusting to some of the movement difficulties that will become more apparent over time. Physical therapy can help provide coping mechanisms for the days when your body simply will not move as you want it to move.
EXERCISE- and finding the right program is important. There are many activities which require only minor adjustments to keep your lifestyle active. Be cautious of activities that could be dangerous if an episode of freezing occurs. These activities should be planned and engaged in with a support person available.
SPEECH THERAPY-helps a person with Parkinson's maintain and even regain communication skills lost to muscle weakness. Parkinson's weakens muscles in the mouth, lips, tongue, and diaphragm. Even facial expressions and nonverbal communication may become limited by progressive facial-muscle stiffening. Speech pathologist or therapist can teach specific strategies that make communication easier.
DIET- is important to maintaining a healthy weight which can help your body adjust quicker to movement-related issues and can help muscles adjust to the extra demands of the disease. If swallowing problems occur, changing the types of food in the diet may become necessary. Too much saliva can hinder swallowing, so limiting foods that aggravate salivation may be helpful.
REDUCING STRESS-is a key consideration with Parkinson's since stress has been known to aggravate Parkinson's symptoms. Schedule rest time to make sure that your body isn't overtaxed. Plan fun vacation getaways with family and friends. People with Parkinson's can still travel you will just need to make a few extra planning steps in order to have an enjoyable trip.
Family and In-Home caregivers can do a lot to help keep the disease as manageable as possible. Assisting with medication management, doctor's appointments, keeping a consistent diet and exercise plan, and even managing fun activities can inject hopefulness and improve the quality of life for those who are dealing with the challenges of Parkinson's.
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