In light of the ITV documentary Jeremy Paxman: Putting up With Parkinson’s, Middletons Mobility has compiled answers to some of the questions you may have concerning Parkinson’s disease, which currently affects one in 37 people in the UK.
Discover what it is and the symptoms, how to care for someone with Parkinson’s or how to cope with it, and what treatments are available.
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 one adult in every 350 is 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 coordinate movement. As these brain parts 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, memory, and mental health. These are defined as Non-Motor Symptoms or symptoms you cannot see easily.
It’s important to remember that not all people will experience all these symptoms and how they progress will be different for everyone.
Main stages of Parkinson’s
- The early or diagnosis stage is when someone is first experiencing symptoms and being diagnosed.
- The maintenance stage is when the symptoms are controlled, perhaps by medication.
- The advanced stage is often called the ‘complex phase’. This is when you may find it hard to achieve day-to-day activities without a carer.
- The palliative stage is 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 their care needs may change as they develop the disease. In terms of emotional support, if someone has been newly diagnosed, they may not need physical help; instead, they might need someone to relate to or process the diagnosis.
Talking to people who understand what you’re going through can help you come to terms with the situation, and you can get helpful advice from them.
Monitoring your family member’s medication can be daunting because someone with Parkinson’s may have a complicated medication regime. Ask for advice from your GP on a useful way of monitoring it, for example, with a chart or diary.
Caring for paid employment can be challenging, but support is 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 look after yourself and know your rights.
How will I cope with Parkinson’s?
There are several 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 travelling. 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 no treatments that cure, slows, stops or reverses the progression of Parkinson’s.
- Explore different therapies – there are several 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 for Parkinson’s?
Everyone with Parkinson’s has unique symptoms; therefore, your treatments will be unique. It’s important to find what’s best for you. There are various 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 how you move and results in symptoms such as tremors, stiffness, and slow movement.
Middletons provide mobility products to keep you independent for longer and increase your comfort if you suffer from Parkinson’s.
The Middletons scooters, rollators, and wheelchairs will help you get around outdoors to easily complete your day-to-day tasks.