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How to Help a Senior Parent After a Parkinson’s Diagnosis

By the time your senior loved one is diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, both of you have probably suspected something is wrong. Consequently, it’s not unusual to have mixed reactions, ranging from relief at finally receiving a diagnosis to fear about not knowing how the condition will affect your loved one in the future. 

Get More than One Opinion

Any reputable doctor won’t mind you or your loved one insisting on another opinion after the initial diagnosis. The reason for doing so is due to the difficulty of positively confirming a diagnosis in the early stages of the disease, and the following conditions are sometimes misdiagnosed as Parkinson’s:

  • Multiple symptom atrophy
    • Progressive supranuclear palsy
    • Lewy body dementia
    • Stroke
    • Encephalitis (inflammation of the brain)
    • Head trauma 

Find Local Support

For family members, support groups offer a place to discuss concerns and find comfort from others who are in similar situations. For your loved one, group activities (such as yoga, exercise, and arts and crafts classes) can provide support from other people experiencing the same condition while helping him or her maintain dexterity, hand-eye coordination, and muscle strength. 

Schedule Physical Therapy

Scheduling physical therapy soon after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s can help your loved one feel like he or she is doing something productive to counter the effects of the disease. Therapists often encourage caregivers and family members to participate together so the recommended exercises can be continued at home between sessions. 

Caring for a senior loved one can be challenging for families who don’t have expertise or professional training in home care, but this challenge doesn’t have to be faced alone. Family caregivers can turn to Anchorage Home Care Assistance for the help they need. We provide high-quality live-in and respite care as well as comprehensive Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care.

Seek Input from Multiple Specialists

As Parkinson’s progresses, your loved one may need to modify his or her routine to compensate for difficulties with walking, balance, chewing, and swallowing. The following specialists may be able to help your loved one adjust to Parkinson’s complications as the condition advances:

  • Dietitians (to recommend ways to prepare food to reduce the risk of choking and address digestion issues)
    • Speech therapists (to strengthen muscles in the throat)
    • Neurologists (to periodically evaluate motor skills)
    • Psychologists (to manage bouts of depression and anxiety sometimes experienced by seniors with Parkinson’s) 

A diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease can be stressful for both you and your loved one. However, it’s a condition that can often be addressed with careful observation. As a caregiver, you can further help your loved one by tracking symptoms, establishing productive communication with his or her doctor, and providing emotional support.

Families who find it difficult to care for their aging loved ones without assistance can benefit greatly from professional respite care. Anchorage, AK, family caregivers who need a break from their caregiving duties can turn to Home Care Assistance. Using our proprietary Balanced Care Method, our respite caregivers can encourage your loved one to eat well, exercise regularly, get plenty of mental and social stimulation, and focus on other lifestyle factors that promote longevity.

Do Your Own Research

Every senior with Parkinson’s experiences the progression of the disease differently. Aging adults and family caregivers should seek out information about the symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease so they can be prepared for what to expect in the long term. You should keep yourself up to date on the most current information pertaining to Parkinson’s, including new treatments and advances in various forms of therapy. 

When seniors develop Parkinson’s disease, their families aren’t always able to provide the care they need and deserve. One of the most challenging tasks of helping an elderly relative age in place safely and comfortably is researching agencies that provide senior care. Turn to Home Care Assistance for reliable, high-quality in-home care for aging adults. We offer 24-hour live-in care for seniors who require extensive assistance, and we also offer respite care for family caregivers who need a break from their caregiving duties. Call us today at (907) 770-0907 to learn about our high-quality in-home care services