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VNA Answer Nurse: Basics in Parkinson’s disease

parkinsons disease

My husband was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. As his primary caregiver, what are some things I should know about his disease?

After a Parkinson’s diagnosis, it can be overwhelming to learn about the different aspects of the disease and treatment. As you and your physician discuss treatment options, here are some general tips to help you support your loved one through his journey.

Stay moving and exercising
Exercise is a vital part of managing Parkinson’s. Staying active and maintaining strength can improve balance and mobility. Finding fun ways to exercise will keep you more likely to stick with a routine. Parkinson’s patients have found exercises like dance classes, boxing and swimming beneficial to them with their disease.

Maintain a medication schedule
Every Parkinson’s patient has a different treatment plan and medications that work best for them. However, it is not uncommon to have multiple medications, and therefore, you will need to utilize good medication management.

Creating and adhering to a strict schedule will offer your husband the greatest benefit from the medications, and missing doses may have negative side effects. If you need help with medication management, speak to your physician about having a home health nurse assist with setting up medication reminders.

Preventing falls at home
Parkinson’s often affects the gait and motor skills of a person, putting them at a higher risk for falling. Parkinson’s patients often shuffle and can easily trip over items in their way. Take the time now to assess your home and find ways to create a safer environment for your husband. Tuck away cords on the ground, affix rugs securely to the floor, install grab bars when needed and illuminate dark hallways. These simple things can go a long way in ensuring the safety of your loved one.

As your husband’s disease progresses, be sure to ask for help when needed. Research how a home health aide can help you with your caregiving duties.

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