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Parkinson's Disease: Tips for Caregivers

By Sandra Ray, Staff Writer

(Page 3 of 3)

Diet is especially important. If your loved one is overweight, now is an excellent time to begin managing weight loss. Even though obesity itself is not a cause of Parkinsonís disease, it can be a limiting factor in how much movement is possible as the disease progresses. Losing weight can help your body adjust quicker to movement-related issues and can help muscles adjust to the extra demands of the disease. Your physician can suggest dietary changes that will provide the maximum health benefit and one that can be easily adopted by others in the household if this is a requirement.

While dietary supplements like Vitamin E do virtually nothing to help with the disease management, changes in diet may be needed over time. If problems like swallowing do occur, changing the types of food in the diet may become critical. In addition, too much saliva can hinder swallowing, so limiting the foods that aggravate salivation may be helpful as well.

Traveling with Parkinsonís:

Many people feel that Parkinsonís disease limits their ability to travel and enjoy the retirement or later years. Instead, people with Parkinsonís can still travel Ė they just need to make a few extra planning steps in order to make their trip enjoyable. Here are a few tips to consider:

  • If youíre flying, arrive at the airport earlier than usual to compensate for movement difficulties that may arise as you navigate the security checkpoints and allow for last-minute gate changes by the airlines.
  • Double-check your medication to make sure that you have more than youíll need for the trip. If youíre stranded a few days at your destination before you can return home, having extra medication is not only handy Ė itís a necessity.
  • If you canít bring extra medication, check to see if your pharmacy is available in the town where youíll be traveling. Make sure that you have enough refills in case you need to pick one up while youíre away.
  • Keep emergency numbers stored in more than one place Ė having them in the suitcase only, for example, can be a problem if your luggage takes a sudden detour while en route to your destination. If possible, carry a small bag with extra medication and emergency phone numbers, including your physicianís.
  • Plan extra time on you vacation for rest. In the excitement of the trip, itís easy to overdo the amount of activity that is packed into one day. Schedule rest time to make sure that your body isnít overtaxed. If you need to add more days to the trip or plan less, it will be worth it if you donít have the stress of feeling as if you were too limited by Parkinsonís.

Caregivers can do much to help their loved ones keep the disease as manageable as possible. By helping with medication management, doctorís appointments, keeping a consistent diet and exercise plan, and even managing those fun vacation getaways, caregivers can inject a feeling of hopefulness into an area of life that could quickly become too stressful. Reducing stress is also a key area to consider with Parkinsonís, since stress has been known to aggravate Parkinsonís symptoms.

There is no known cure for Parkinsonís, although researchers are working on one every day. Until a cure is found, the disease can be managed. The effectiveness of the treatment relies a great deal on the amount of planning and communication that takes place at home, as well as that done in the doctorís office.

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