Being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, or simply “Parkinson’s”, can be a real game changer at any age. When it’s an elderly loved one, keeping them safe and comfortable as the disease progresses becomes a priority. One of the ways to ensure that they enjoy a higher quality of life is by assembling a comprehensive Parkinson’s care team. As an informal caregiver using these team-building tips should result in your loved one receiving the care they need.
What is Parkinson’s?
Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative disease that predominantly affects the dopamine-producing brain cells (neurons) in the substantia nigra region. Unfortunately, the cause of, and cure for, Parkinson’s disease (PD) remain unknown. Thankfully, there are medications and surgical treatments now available that make living with PD more bearable.
Parkinson’s symptoms usually develop slowly and then gradually get worse over time. Although Parkinson’s itself is not fatal, disease complications can be serious and even deadly. Due to PD’s diversity, the progression of symptoms varies from person-to-person and may include:
- Tremors, mainly while at rest
- Limb rigidity
- Balance and gait difficulties
Assembling a PD Caregiving Team
While assembling your caregiving team, learn as much as possible about the disease. A great place to start is the Parkinson’s Foundation. After you’ve conducted your research proceed by taking these steps:
Hold a family meeting
Invite the loved one with PD and fellow family members to all sit down and discuss the situation. Use the opportunity to brainstorm a care plan based on everyone’s time and talents. Discuss who should be initially involved as the care team takes shape, along with any possible additions as needs change. Also decide who is going to be the team’s leader, but don’t be surprised if it ends up being you!
Find the right doctors
Your loved one’s primary care physician may be an internist or general practitioner that first detected their PD symptoms. As an essential member of your care team, that primary care doctor will remain a point-of-contact that helps coordinate various specialists and treatments.
Your senior will probably be referred to a neurologist, a physician who has received specialized training in how to diagnose and treat neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s.
Some neurologists are also movement disorder specialists, training that’s beneficial when working with PD patients. At some point a neurosurgeon might be called in to perform a surgical procedure that helps improve quality of life.
Mental health professionals
Many people with Parkinson’s experience mood disorders like anxiety and depression. Adding a mental health professional or two to your team will help ensure that your loved one gets the support and treatment they need. Those specialists may include a psychiatrist, psychologist or even a neuropsychologist.
As the disease progresses it may also become necessary to recruit licensed healthcare professionals like physical, occupational or speech language therapists for your team.
Registered dieticians, also called nutritionists, are trained to educate those living with PD about proper nutrition so they can enjoy a higher quality of life. A dietician can also provide helpful advice about how to cope with the disease. They can help address symptoms like weight loss, weight gain or swallowing issues.
A licensed social worker like a certified geriatric care manager can help your team members coordinate their efforts using an integrated care approach. The focus of these professionals is on the emotional, logistical and psychological challenges facing those who are caring for a loved one with PD.
Professional in-home caregiver
In addition to unpaid family caregivers, it may also be necessary to hire a professional in-home caregiver from a licensed home care provider who’s had specialized training on how to assist clients with Parkinson’s disease.
Add First In Care to Your Parkinson’s Team
Even when using a team approach caring for an aging loved one with Parkinson’s can be exhausting. When you need a break the professional caregivers from First In Care can step in and provide your senior with the nurturing they deserve. While serving families touched by Parkinson’s disease, our highly trained professionals understand what’s required to maintain a client’s quality of life, along with their dignity and self-esteem.
In addition, First In Care also provides in-home support for other daily living activities like personal hygiene, light housework, transportation and medication reminders. Our senior caregiving services are affordable, flexible, and always delivered in a seamless package that restores your peace-of-mind. For more information about our family-trusted senior home care services available in Bradenton and Manatee County, Florida, please visit www.firstincare.com now.