Four Risks when Caring for Seniors with Parkinson’s Disease

By September 26, 2017Parkinson's Disease
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Parkinson’s disease risks increase as the disease progresses and worsens at home. A person with Parkinson’s disease is at increased risk of falls, social isolation, and depression. It may become more difficult to take medications appropriately as the disease progresses, especially when more caregivers and providers get involved.

Addressing these risks are essential to caring for a senior with Parkinson’s disease, but it can be daunting for a family member to address. Luckily, you have a professional whom you can rely upon. A geriatric care manager can coordinate all priorities to reduce risk and relieve stress for family members struggling to care for Parkinson’s.

Geriatric care managers are trained to coordinate, facilitate and streamline care for those with Parkinson’s disease risks at home. Here is what you need to know about the risks inherent in Parkinson’s disease and how an objective professional can help to mitigate them.

Keep reading: The Four Coping Skills Parkinson’s Caregivers Need »

Four Parkinson’s Disease Risks for Seniors at Home

1. Risk of falls

People living with Parkinson’s disease have twice the risk1 of falling at home as the general population. The rigidity and slowness of movement caused by the disease can make walking difficult and reduce stability. As the person’s body becomes less flexible, it increases the risk of falls at home.

Parkinson’s disease causes many physical problems that contribute to falls. They include:

  • Vision problems including double and blurry vision and changes in depth perception.
  • Low blood pressure when sitting or lying down that can cause lightheadedness when getting up.
  • Constipation can increase the risk of bathroom falls as the person strains for a bowel movement.
  • Incontinence can cause a person to fall while rushing to the bathroom.
  • Fatigue and exhaustion due to disturbed sleep or lack of sleep can increase unsteadiness while standing or walking.

Each of these individual Parkinson’s disease risks can be managed by an objective professional who has experience communicating with physicians and navigating the health care system to obtain proper care. In addition, geriatric care managers can adapt the home to the needs of your loved one in order to prevent falls.

2. Risk of social isolation and depression

As Parkinson’s disease progresses it can make it more difficult for the person to leave the house for many reasons including:

  • Anxiety2, which is now considered to be part of the disease, rather than a side effect of the disease, can prevent the person from leaving the house.
  • Generalized anxiety, panic attacks and social phobia increase with Parkinson’s disease, further isolating the person.
  • Speech problems and tremors caused by the disease increase self-consciousness and lead to avoidance of social interaction.

A geriatric care manager can help your loved one get out of the house and socialize with others despite these symptoms. He or she is trained to instill confidence, find appropriate activities, and accompany your loved one to events or visits with friends. They understand depression and can find solutions to alleviate it, whether it is social interaction or treatment with a doctor, psychiatrist, or therapist.

Keep Reading: Understanding Non-Motor Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease »

3. Risk of medication compliance

There are many medications that treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. As the disease progresses, the number and type of medications that the person takes will increase. A geriatric care manager with clinical training can help you and your loved one understand the medications, how to take them, and the potential side effects. Taking medications properly ensures that your loved one will get the greatest benefit from them.

4. Risk of miscommunication

As your loved one’s care team expands to include neurologists, physical therapists, speech therapists, podiatrists, and the primary care physician, understanding and keeping track of conversations, recommendations, referrals, and appointments can become highly complex. A geriatric care manager understands the health system and will advocate for your loved one. He or she can navigate between members of the care team, document conversations, coordinate care plans, and help you make the best care decisions for your loved one.

Parkinson’s disease carries with it many risks. Caring properly for your loved one requires managing and mitigating Parkinson’s disease risks to every extent possible. A geriatric care manager can manage risk for you and give you the peace of mind that your loved one is receiving appropriate and timely care at each stage of the disease.

Learn more: How to care for a senior with Parkinson’s disease »


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