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Caring for Parkinson’s Disease Dementia Patient

Caring for Parkinson’s Disease Dementia Patient

Parkinson’s disease is a common neurodegenerative disease that affects at least 500,000 people in the United States.  The condition mostly affects older people with the average age of onset being 60-years of age.

Between 50 to 80 percent of people with Parkinson’s disease will eventually suffer from cognitive decline.  An estimated 20% of all people who have Parkinson’s disease will suffer from dementia — referred to as Parkinson’s disease dementia or Lewy body dementia.

Dealing with Parkinson’s disease can be very difficult, particularly when it is combined with dementia or a loss of cognitive function.  This article will offer some advice in caring for Parkinson’s disease dementia patient.

The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease

The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease change as the illness progresses.  In the early to mid-stages, it appears as a tremor in the limbs, rigidly in the trunk, slowness of movement, a loss of coordination and a stooped posture.  The disease can eventually make it difficult for the patient to speak or swallow, which makes caring for them more difficult.

In the later stages of the disease, the cognitive capabilities of the patient might be affected and they may suffer from a range of psychiatric problems.  One or more of the following symptoms may appear — memory problems, difficulty remembering words, trouble communicating, low self-esteem, difficulty learning new skills, depression, hallucinations, confusion, and personality changes.

Helping a Person to cope with Parkinson’s disease dementia

It is important to recognize the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease dementia as soon as possible.  Individual’s suffering can then receive appropriate attention from a physician and their caregiver can make adjustments to how their loved one is cared for.

Some of the symptoms that are common with Parkinson’s disease dementia can be caused by other problems like stress and depression, so it is important to get a professional diagnosis as soon as possible.

Communicating effectively

A caregiver should be aware of the effect that dementia has upon the person’s ability to communicate.  The thought processes of the individual are being interfered with by their condition and they may struggle to express themselves.  In most cases, either the person’s thought processes are confused or they will struggle to verbalize their thoughts.  Caregivers must give their loved one time to fully express themselves and interpret what they are asking for.

The disease also makes it difficult for a patient to understand new ideas or answer a question.  If a caregiver is asking questions of them or teaching them something new, they should do so slowly and carefully.  It may be necessary to repeat certain questions or ideas multiple times before they are fully understood.  Eye contact should always be made when communicating with a person suffering from dementia and the caregiver should speak as clearly as possible.

When asking questions of a person with dementia, it is better to be specific.  Instead of asking “Where would you like to go today?” ask “Would you like to go to the park or the library?”  That way they can easily respond instead of being drawn into a difficult question with many possible answers.

Providing assistance with simple tasks

This form of dementia can interfere with a patient’s visuospatial processing, which makes it difficult to perform simple tasks like getting dressed, taking pills or inserting a hearing aid.  A caregiver must be aware that some seemingly simple tasks can become difficult.

The caregiver must be aware that simple tasks can be difficult for a dementia sufferer. Tasks like operating a microwave or opening a package can become problematic.

Consider the medicines they are taking

Some medications may worsen the symptoms experienced by people with Parkinson’s disease dementia.  Ideally, the patient’s doctor should closely examine the medications that the patient is on to ensure they are not taking drugs that make their dementia worse.  Medications that have memory loss, hallucinations, insomnia or confusion as side effects are particularly troublesome.

The caregiver should be in charge of the patient’s medications, ensuring that the appropriate doses are taken at the right times.

Keep the home clean and safe

The effect that Parkinson’s disease has on a person’s mobility is difficult to deal with.  They are more likely to suffer from trips or falls around the home.  That risk is made even worse if they also have Parkinson’s disease dementia.  Keep the home tidy, remove unnecessary furniture, ensure there is adequate lighting and remove any trip hazards.  The caregiver should also remove any items that they do not want the patient to use including sharp knives, ladders, food processors and other dangerous objects.

Helping them to perform exercise

Regular exercise and a healthy diet are essential for maintaining good health.  A caregiver should provide both mental stimulation and physical exercises for their loved one.  That can include a wide variety of activities including listening to music, playing board games, doing puzzles, dancing, gardening, and reading.

How Non-Medical Home Care Can Help

If you are struggling to provide care to a loved one who is living with Parkinson’s disease dementia, using a home care service will be beneficial.  Home care involves a trained professional visiting the patient’s home and performing a number of services including:

  • Cooking meals
    Home care staff can cook meals in their client’s home. This will ensure your loved one is continuing to enjoy a healthy and nutritious diet.
  • Transportation and help getting to doctor’s appointments
    It can become very difficult for a person with Parkinson’s disease to get to their doctor’s appointments. Home care staff can transport your loved one to and from doctor’s appointments.  They can also provide transport to social engagements, allowing the senior to enjoy an active social life.
  • Cleaning the home and making it a safe environment
    Home care staff can make sure the home is a safe environment, free of trip hazards and dangerous items. They can also clean the home by performing a range of duties including vacuuming, mopping, washing clothes and much more.
  • Providing some companionship
    It is very easy to become socially isolated if you have Parkinson’s disease. Home care staff can ensure that does not happen by providing companionship.
  • Helping with rehabilitation techniques
    Home care staff can help the patient perform rehabilitation techniques to remain physically fit and mobile. They can also help to provide some mental stimulation.

We hope you found this article very informative.  If you have any questions about caring for Parkinson’s disease dementia patient, contact All Heart Home Care at 619-736-4677.  We offer in-home consultations and would love to discuss the many home care services available.

Eric Barth
Eric Barth
CEO and blogger for All Heart Home Care. I devote myself to helping seniors age in their own home while maintaining a feeling of independence, preserve their dignity, and enhance the quality of their life. I write these blogs to help educate the public on issues surrounding what seniors find to be the most important. My blogs are from my own personal research. I hope you enjoy my blog posts.

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