Caring for an aging loved one with Parkinson’s disease (PD) can be overwhelming even on the best of days. As PD progresses it can affect cognition, communication and mobility. In the latter stages Parkinson’s can cause complications that make performing even the most basic activities of daily living (ADLs) difficult.  As an informal caregiver, finding ways to simplify the caregiving process for seniors with Parkinson’s will help them maintain a higher quality of life. Here are some tips to ensure that all your loved one’s needs get met. 

How Parkinson’s Affects Seniors 

The onset of Parkinson’s can be subtle and gradual. This is what to expect in the earlier stages:

  • Tremors (slight shaking) in the hands, fingers, thumbs or chin
  • Voice that keeps getting softer and lower
  • Loss of smell
  • Sleeping difficulties including restless sleep
  • Stooped or hunched over appearance
  • Trouble moving body parts or walking
  • Constipation that’s unrelated to diet or medications
  • “Masked” face that appears angry or serious for no apparent reason

And although Parkinson’s in-and-of itself isn’t fatal, as the disease slowly progresses it can lead to complications later in life that are serious and deadly.

PD Can Disrupt Speech and Communication 

Because it’s a neurological disorder, Parkinson’s eventually targets muscles and brain cells that control speech, listening and comprehension. Difficulty concentrating or expressing thoughts is common, along with an inability to form words, find the right words, or retrieve learned information. Once these speech and comprehension issues present themselves, communicating with someone living with PD becomes even more challenging.

Developing an Effective Parkinson’s Strategy 

Sadly, there is no known cure for Parkinson’s. However, surgical procedures and medications are available that address symptoms and disease progression. As an informal caregiver, staying in front of the Parkinson’s curve takes an effective strategy that includes these steps:

Learn all you can

April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month, which makes it the perfect time to educate yourself about the disease. Help your loved one enjoy a higher quality of life by learning about the right diet, exercise program and home environment for those living with PD.

In addition to the Parkinson’s Foundation, other educational resources that you can take advantage of include caregiver support groups, healthcare contacts that work with Parkinson’s patients, and informative websites like WebMD o