Understanding Parkinson’s Disease

Written by
Isabella Williams

Today is World Parkinson’s Day and we are standing with those who suffer from the disease and those who have family members with Parkinson’s. To help spread awareness, we have compiled answers to some of the questions you may have concerning Parkinson’s Disease.

Discover what it is and what the symptoms are, how to care for someone with Parkinson’s or how to cope with it and what treatments are available to you.

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s Disease is a progressive neurological condition. This means that it causes problems in the brain and that it gets worse over time. Around 1 adult in every 350 are diagnosed in the UK.

People with Parkinson’s Disease don’t produce enough dopamine because some of the nerve cells that make it have died. Dopamine allows messages to be sent to the parts of the brain that co-ordinate movement. As these parts of the brain fail to communicate the symptoms begin to appear.

 Most people have Idiopathic Parkinson’s which means the cause is unknown. For a small minority, Parkinson’s can be genetically inherited, but this is very rare. Other forms include Vascular Parkinsonism and Drug-induced Parkinsonism.

What are the Symptoms of Parkinson’s?

Parkinson’s exhibits three main symptoms; a tremor, stiffness, and slowness of movement. These are defined as Motor Symptoms or symptoms that you can see.

You may also experience problems with sleep, your memory, and mental health. These are defined as Non-Motor Symptoms or symptoms that you cannot see easily.

It’s important to remember that not all people will experience all these symptoms and the way they progress will be different for everyone.

The main stages of Parkinson’s are:

  • Early or Diagnosis Stage: the time when someone is first experiencing symptoms and being diagnosed.
  • Maintenance Stage: when the symptoms are controlled, perhaps by medication.
  • Advanced Stage: often called the ‘complex phase’. This is when you may find it hard to achieve day-to-day activities without a carer.
  • Palliative Stage: being provided relief from the symptoms, stress, and pain of the condition.

How to care for someone with Parkinson’s Disease?

Caring for someone with Advanced Parkinson’s is difficult because as someone develops in the disease, their care needs may change. 

In terms of emotional support, if someone has been newly diagnosed they may not need physical help but instead, they might need someone to relate to or process the diagnosis.

Talking to people who understand what you’re going through can help come to terms with the situation and you can get helpful advice from them.

Monitoring the medication of your family member can be daunting because someone with Parkinson’s may have a complicated medication regime. Ask for advice from your GP for a useful way of monitoring it for example, with a chart or diary.

Caring while in paid employment can be challenging, but there is support available to you including financial aid.

Help is available for people with Parkinson’s and carers from care professionals for example, specialist consultants or GPs, Parkinson’s nurses, District or community nurses, Occupational therapists, Physiotherapists, Speech and Language Therapists, Dietitians, Social Workers, Parkinson’s local advisers, other Parkinson’s local staff and groups, and Care training.

As a carer, it’s important to remember to look after yourself and know your rights.

How will I cope with Parkinson’s?

There are a number of treatments and activities that you can do to relieve the symptoms of Parkinson’s, for example:

  • Exercise regularly – Exercising is good, especially for those with Parkinson’s. Doing 2.5 hours of exercise a week can slow the progression of your symptoms. Exercise can help manage your physical and mental symptoms. Remember that the amount and level of exercise will vary depending on the progression of your Parkinson’s.
  • Monitor your symptoms – Keeping a diary can be useful for monitoring your physical and mental symptoms. This is useful for the doctor to know what problems you’re experiencing and how to help.
  • Diet – Having a healthy, balanced diet may help manage your symptoms.
  • Holidays and Travel – It’s important to know that Parkinson’s will not stop you from traveling. This is important because it will contribute to positive mental health.
  • Medication – Drug treatment is the main method used to control the symptoms of Parkinson’s. They increase the level of dopamine that reaches the brain and stimulates the parts of the brain where dopamine works. Currently, medications can help manage symptoms, but there are not any treatments that cure, slows, stops or reverses the progression of Parkinson’s.
  • Explore different therapies – there are a number of therapies that can help people with Parkinson’s manage their symptoms. Different therapies will work for different people, so try different ones out. For example, Occupational therapy, Physiotherapy, Dietary therapy, Speech and Language therapy, and Complementary Therapies.

What are the treatments of Parkinson’s?

Everyone that has Parkinson’s has unique symptoms, therefore your treatments will be unique. It’s important to find what’s best for you.

There are an array of different therapies, drugs, and even surgical treatments.

How can a mobility product help someone with Parkinson’s?

If you suffer from Parkinson’s Disease or have a family member who suffers from this, an occupational therapist-approved product could improve your quality of life.

Parkinson’s affects the way you move and results in symptoms such as tremors, stiffness, and slowness of movement. Middletons provide a selection of mobility products to keep you independent for longer and to increase your comfort if you’re suffering from Parkinson’s.

Made-to-measure rise and recline chairs or beds will help you move in and out of a comfy position when you are struggling to get out yourself.

The Middletons scooters, rollators, and wheelchairs will help you get around outdoors so you can complete your day-to-day tasks with ease. 

Visit a store near you today, or contact us on 0800 999 2831 for more information. 

This information has been gathered from the charity Parkinson’s UK, they drive for better care, treatments, and quality of life so that no-one has to face Parkinson’s alone. For more information on how to get help, treatments and symptoms go the Parkinson’s UK website.

Read more: A guide to good posture when sitting down

Read more: 7 reasons you should get an adjustable bed

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