The progressive neurological condition known as Parkinsons Disease is thought to affect one out of every 500 people in the UK. The 127,000 people living with the disease suffer from progressive brain damage with no known cure. Men are more likely to get the disease with women and symptoms are much more likely to appear after age 50.
Parkinsons is caused by the loss of nerve cells which produce dopamine. Without dopamine, a person’s movements become slower and even simple tasks become laborious. Other symptoms include slowness of movement, stiffness of movement, and tremors. At first, these symptoms may be more noticeable to close friends and family, but worsen overtime. A wide range of physical and psychological symptoms can also accompany Parkinsons, including depression, constipation, insomnia, loss of smell, and memory issues. Each patient’s experience with Parkinsons is different and some may exhibit symptoms to a greater or lesser degree.
Living with Parkinsons
For both the individual as well as their friends and family, living with Parkinsons can be emotional. While there is no known cure, there are treatments available which help manage symptoms. Most of the drug therapies are focused on increasing dopamine. In addition to drug therapies, speech therapy, physiotherapy, and occupational therapy may be used to help control symptoms.
For the patient, living with the disease can be stressful. Staying physically and mentally fit can help reduce stress. Regular exercise also helps relieve muscle stiffness. In addition, a healthy, well-balanced diet can help lift mood and enhance immune system. Most importantly, talking with a GP, support group, and trusted loved ones is vital to managing stress.
The slow, stiff movements and tremors can make daily tasks difficult. Fortunately, a variety of assistive devices and aides can help make daily living easier for people with Parkinsons.
People living with Parkinsons want to retain their independence as long as possible. Doing so also helps with self-esteem and alleviates depression. For each aspect of daily living, there are a variety of assistive devices available.
Getting in and out of the bath or shower safely is difficult with stiff, sore muscles and tremors. Devices such as grab rails can help make this task easier and safer. Once in the shower or tub, options like bath steps, tap turners, and long-handled sponges make it easier for patients to attend to their personal hygiene.
Getting dressed with stiff, trembling fingers and hands can seem nearly impossible. With devices like extra-long shoe horns, long handled combs and brushes, and special shoe laces make the task of dressing and undressing easier.
Eating and Drinking
Tremors and shaking can make it difficult to eat and drink without spilling. Traditional cutlery and cups can seem nearly impossible to use. Weighted forks and knives coupled with plate surrounds and guards make it easier for people with Parkinsons to feed themselves at meal time.
In the Kitchen
The kitchen can be a scary and dangerous place for people with Parkinsons. Fortunately many products exist to make the kitchen a safer place. Kettle tippers, hot drink dispensers, food prep aides, and non-slip mats all help avoid accidents and burns.
Day to Day Living
Doing simple tasks around the house can be quite difficult. Products like key turners, grab rails, and plug pulls can make these tasks easier.
With support and assistive devices, patients with Parkinsons Disease can maintain their independence longer and manage symptoms.