Tips for patients and caregivers on living well with Parkinson's disease | Health - Hindustan Times

Tips for patients and caregivers on living well with Parkinson's disease

ByZarafshan Shiraz, Delhi
Apr 15, 2023 05:06 PM IST

In India, more than 7 million people are currently suffering from Parkinson's disease. Health experts share tips for patients, caregivers on living well with it

Parkinson's is a slowly progressing neurodegenerative condition disease that is triggered by the depletion of a neurotransmitter called ‘dopamine’ and as per the health experts, the symptoms of Parkinson's disease progress gradually and become worse in severe disease. This health condition significantly alters the quality of life, making the person suffering from the disease dependent on other people for his/her daily activities and according to a recent study in India, more than 7 million people are currently suffering from this condition in our country, which highlights the importance of increasing awareness about the disease to help Parkinson's patients and caregivers live a normal life.

Tips for patients and caregivers on living well with Parkinson's disease (Pixabay)
Tips for patients and caregivers on living well with Parkinson's disease (Pixabay)

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Kranthi Mohan, Consultant - Neurologist at BGS Gleneagles Global Hospital in Bengaluru, shared, “Parkinson's disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder. Recent trends show an alarming incidence rate, with one patient being diagnosed with PD every six minutes. Life for patients with Parkinson's disease can be very challenging as they have to adjust to new ways of performing simple daily tasks. If you have Parkinson's disease, it's important to do what you can to stay physically and mentally healthy. Being diagnosed with a long-term condition like PD can put a strain on you, your family, and friends.”

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Talking about the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, Dr Ravi Gopal Varma, Director at Aster Global Institute of Neurosciences and Lead Consultant - Neurosurgery at Aster Hospitals in Bangalore, revealed that the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease range from constipation to loss of smell. Some of the most common symptoms experienced by the patients include -

  • Rigidity
  • Tremor
  • Slow movement (bradykinesia)
  • Speech alterations
  • Changes in writing
  • Presence of involuntary movements
  • Memory issues

Dr Kranthi Mohan suggested a few tips for daily routines to help patients with PD:

  • Medications:
  1. Never skip medications, as it may cause "off" symptoms and lead to falls.
  2. Follow a regular medication schedule.
  • Improving Mobility:
  1. Regular exercise is particularly important in helping relieve muscle stiffness, improving your mood, and relieving stress.
  2. If you're newly diagnosed or your symptoms are mild, you could try vigorous activities like team sports, cycling, and running. If your symptoms are complex or progressing, try less strenuous activities such as walking, simple stretching, and strengthening exercises.
  3. Many patients develop freezing episodes, which create a danger of falling because the beginning and end of a freezing episode are unpredictable. Try the 4 S strategy: STOP, SIGH, SHIFT, STEP. When you feel an episode of freezing starting, try to STOP your movements, SIGH and take an audible breath, SHIFT your weight back and forth, and finally take an exaggerated first STEP to resume walking.

• How patient relatives can help in freezing:

  1. Remain calm. Do not rush or push the individual during a freezing episode.
  2. If the person is unable to move without assistance, try placing your foot perpendicular to the person and ask them to step over it.
  3. Ask them to breathe and try marching or counting.
  • Diet and Nutrition:
  1. Diet and Parkinson's medications can impact each other. Carbidopa/levodopa medications work best on an empty stomach. A protein-rich meal like meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, nuts, and beans may interfere with the absorption of the drug in the blood.
  2. Anti-inflammatory foods which contain "medium-chain triglycerides" like coconut oil can be used.
  3. Fruits that are purple and red, like blueberries and raspberries, contain pigments called anthocyanins, which are well-known antioxidants. Green tea is well-known for its antioxidant property.
  4. In severe stages of PD, assistive devices can help make eating and drinking easier.
  • Sleep:

80 to 90% of patients with PD experience sleep-related disorders like excessive sleepiness to insomnia.

  1. Practice proper sleep hygiene and routine every day before going to bed.
  2. Many people who have difficulty getting to sleep have an easier time relaxing if they take a hot bath, read, or do a mindfulness meditation first.
  3. Turn off electronic devices 2-3 hours before going to sleep.
  • Bathing and Grooming:
  1. Remember to take your time and precautions to help simplify your bathing and grooming routine.
  2. Keep regular schedules and arrange railings to prevent falls in the bathrooms.

Talking about how caregivers and patients can manage Parkinson’s, Dr Ravi Gopal Varma recommended tips to efficiently manage the condition and can ensure normalcy of life -

  • Increase your knowledge by getting detailed information about the condition
  • Visit the doctor appointments along with the patient
  • Ensure proper medications
  • Don’t hesitate from taking help and ask for support
  • Take breaks and rejuvenate while taking care of patients with Parkinson’s
  • Participate in daily life activities and encourage patients to perform activities by themselves to instil a sense of independence in them
  • Ensure fibre and calcium-rich food for patients to help them avoid constipation and osteoporosis. Caregivers should take measures to prevent any food-drug interaction and must schedule food and medicine properly. Additionally, if a patient is unable to swallow food, then caregivers must provide soft and moist food to them.

He concluded, “Lastly, both the patient and the caregivers must work towards building a strong emotional relationship which can help in establishing better understanding and communication between them.”

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