A guide to Parkinson’s Disease and assisted living

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Living with Parkinson’s: Prevalence, symptoms, and treatment

About 1 million people in the U.S. are living with Parkinson’s disease, with most developing symptoms after age 50.[01] Symptoms of Parkinson’s often begin slowly with a slight tremor in one hand. The disorder usually causes slowing of movement and stiffness too. Other early symptoms can include showing little or no expression in the face, slurred or softened speech, and a lack of swinging in the arms while walking.[02]

While the condition worsens over time and there’s currently no cure, medications and various therapies can significantly improve symptoms.

Parkinson’s care plan

Given the range of symptoms associated with the disease, experts say developing multidisciplinary care for patients with Parkinson’s is an important first step. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, the five key players in a Parkinson’s care plan should include the following specialists:[03]

  • Neurologist
  • Physical therapist
  • Speech therapist
  • Occupational therapist
  • Mental health specialist

Another important part of the care plan may include finding a community with accommodations for Parkinson’s patients as symptoms of the disease progress.

Parkinson’s and assisted living communities: What you should know

If your loved one is living with Parkinson’s, long-term care communities like assisted living can help them continue living an independent lifestyle while getting the help they need. Many of these communities feature homelike apartments or suites and amenities like pools, libraries, beauty salons, and movie theaters. Assisted living communities also help with activities of daily living — such as bathing, dressing, and using the toilet — along with medication management or administration.

Consider looking for an assisted living community that trains caregivers to understand the signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, so they can better help your loved one’s specialized needs.


Assisted living and dining for someone with Parkinson’s

You can expect most assisted living communities to provide three healthy meals daily. A well-balanced diet can improve someone’s overall ability to fight Parkinson’s, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Their research also highlights three specific dining considerations:[04]

  • Eat a diet rich in fiber to combat constipation and keep the digestive system functioning properly.
  • Drink plenty of water and other liquids to offset the dehydration caused by Parkinson’s medication.
  • Adjust the timing of high-protein meals so they don’t interfere with the effectiveness of carbidopa-levodopa, the drug commonly used for Parkinson’s disease.

When touring an assisted living community, ask to see the menu and meet with the director of food services of executive chef to discuss ways they can accommodate the dietary needs of someone with Parkinson’s disease.


Activities in assisted living for people with Parkinson’s

Parkinson’s can isolate someone socially, leaving them feeling alone and depressed. Almost half of Parkinson’s patients experience depression or anxiety.[02]

To prevent feelings of isolation or loneliness, many assisted living communities offer an array of activities to help residents continue their hobbies or find new passions. Think adaptive fitness classes like chair aerobics, gardening, social clubs, cooking classes, or simply morning coffee and conversation in the courtyard.

Other Parkinson’s care home options

Assisted living facilities may not always be an option. If that’s the case, there are other options you can explore.


Parkinson’s care homes

Board and care homes offer comparable types of care to assisted living communities in a much smaller, more residential setting with typically two to 10 residents. Staff in these homes can quickly get to know your loved one’s specialized needs, interests, and personality.


Home care for Parkinson’s

Home care services can sometimes offer specialized Parkinson’s care, with staff that can help with activities of daily living as well as health care needs inside the home. Meaning, your loved one doesn’t have to leave their home to get the supervision and assistance they need.


Parkinson’s and independent living

Unlike assisted living, independent living communities don’t typically offer help with personal care like bathing, grooming, and toileting. They’ll usually offer home maintenance, meals, transportation services, and housekeeping. They also build a sense of community among residents through activities and gatherings, but personal and health care needs are often left to third-party providers.

You’ll want to assess the current care needs of your loved one and consider how Parkinson’s can progress when deciding if independent living is right for them. Even if their needs are moderate now, as the disease progresses, assisted living or in-home care may become necessary in the future.


Nursing care for Parkinson’s disease

For those with advanced stages of Parkinson’s, nursing homes generally provide 24-hour care, skilled nursing, or rehabilitation therapy for chronic or debilitating health issues. Nursing homes typically offer some social activities, but their main focus is providing medical care to residents.

Comparatively, assisted living residents are more active and independent than nursing home residents. You’ll want to consult with your loved one’s doctor to determine whether nursing care is needed to treat their Parkinson’s.

Help finding senior living for someone with Parkinson’s

Finding senior living or home care for someone with Parkinson’s can be intimidating and overwhelming — you may feel uncertain about your options, pressure to find the best fit for their needs, and stress about where to begin.

That’s where we can help. For free and unbiased assistance, consider reaching out to A Place for Mom’s Senior Living Advisors who can help you along the way, all at no cost to you.

This article originally appeared on APlaceForMom and was syndicated by MediaFeed.

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