How Assisted Living Helps People with Parkinson's Disease
Brian SheridanNov 8th, 2022
Parkinson's disease is the world's fastest-growing neurological disease. According to statistics, nearly 1,000,000 Americans currently live with Parkinson's disease, with approximately 60,000 diagnosed yearly. This means that the number of Parkinson's patients in the United States is expected to be 1.2 million by 2030, many of whom will need specialized care.
The condition, which typically appears after age 60, affects around 5 percent of people over 80, compounding other present age-related health concerns. As it's a progressive disease, it will only worsen over time, severely impacting the person's ability to move or perform the Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). ADLs are considered basic tasks we all usually do independently, such as bathing, dressing, grooming, preparing meals, and taking medication properly.
People in the later stages of the condition will not be able to live independently, requiring full-time support for ADLs and other tasks.
What is Parkinson's disease?
Parkinson's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder of the central nervous system that affects movement. Many people often present symptoms in the form of tremors in one hand during the initial phases.
It is thought that Parkinson's is caused by nerve cell damage in the brain that causes a drop in dopamine, the neurotransmitter chemical that helps transfer messages from our brains to our muscles. When dopamine production is reduced or eliminated, there is little connection between our brain and muscles, affecting our ability to move freely.
Many doctors prescribe medications that act as a dopamine substitute. However, as there is currently no cure, symptoms will ultimately worsen.
What are the five stages of Parkinson's disease?
A patient's Parkinson's journey is generally divided into five stages:
During the first stage of Parkinson's disease, symptoms are very mild and might not yet interfere with the person's daily routines. However, signs that do present themselves are usually isolated to one side of the body.
Patients in Stage 2 often experience tremors, muscle stiffness, and changes in facial expressions. Trembling may also occur on both sides of the body. Noticeable gait and posture changes might be present. Symptoms during this stage tend to make completing daily tasks more complicated.
In Stage 3, symptoms from Stage 2 have become much more noticeable. The person might start walking with a shuffle or develop balance issues, increasing their risk of falling. ADLs become more challenging during this stage, but living independently is still possible for many patients.
People in Stage 4 start to require to use a walker or other assistive device to stand. They also experience significantly diminished muscle movements and reactions, making living alone challenging and potentially dangerous.
During the final stage of Parkinson's disease, the person will have severe symptoms requiring around-the-clock care to manage. Standing might become difficult, if not impossible, and the patient might even need a wheelchair. Controlling major and minor muscles or speaking can also become problematic.
There's no set timeline for when someone will reach each new stage. Every Parkinson's journey will be different. However, the onset of Parkinson's dementia can further complicate matters, requiring an elevated level of specialized care.
What is Parkinson's disease dementia?
Lewy body is a specific type of dementia that is often (but not always) associated with Parkinson's. It's estimated that 50 to 80 percent of people with Parkinson's will develop symptoms related to dementia, such as:
- Confusion, delusion, and hallucinations
- Mood swings
- Slurred speech
- Difficulty sleeping
- Changes in appetite or energy levels
A complete medical assessment of your loved one's condition will help your family decide on a care plan. In some cases, doctors will suggest placing the person in Memory Care, a community designed to support people diagnosed with dementia, that can give the person the around-the-clock support they require.
Can Assisted Living Help People with Parkinson's?
Many families try to provide care for their loved ones starting at Stage 3 of Parkinson's disease when they need help with ADLs and other tasks. However, as their care needs increase, Assisted Living communities can provide a viable option for older people needing quality care.
Assisted Living staff is trained and experienced in providing support through all stages of Parkinson's disease, along with excellent socialization opportunities, comfortable residences, and nutritious meals. They are also opportunities for physical activities, such as dancing, exercising, and yoga, that may make living with Parkinson’s a little easier.
Families are welcome to visit their loved ones in Assisted Living as often as possible, and can now concentrate less on providing care and more on enjoying time with their loved ones. Best of all, families get the peace of mind that their loved one is safe and in good hands with the trained professional caregivers in an Assisted Living community.
No-cost help finding quality Assisted Living communities in Northeast Florida
Parkinson's disease is a life-altering condition that touches the entire family. When the older patient can no longer live independently at home, Assisted Living offers a prudent option to ensure they get the care they need.
However, deciding which Assisted Living community is best for your elderly loved one can be overwhelming, especially if you're doing it alone or for the first time.
That's why families looking for Assisted Living communities in Northeast Florida call Brian Sheridan of Assisted Living Locators. Brian and his team will take the time to get to know your elderly loved one's needs, wants, and requirements and present a list of best-fit options that suit their lifestyle. With Brian on your side, you'll have all the information you need to make the most informed decision possible.
Contact Brian at 904-559-3203 or firstname.lastname@example.org to find the Best Senior Living Community in Northeast Florida for you or a family member today!