Parkinson’s is unfortunately one of the most common neurodegenerative diseases in the population, particularly among the elderly. Although such a diagnosis is always difficult to accept, we believe it is important to be properly informed to manage this challenging condition. Whether for yourself, or for an elderly relative living with a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, here are 7 tips to improve the quality of life of seniors affected by this condition.
1. Benefits of physical exercise
The primary symptoms of Parkinson’s disease mainly affect the motor system: tremors, slowness of movement (bradykinesia) and rigidity are notably observed for the majority. Although the progression of the disease cannot be fully controlled, it is recognized that the practice of specific physical activities tends to be beneficial for seniors living with this neurodegenerative disorder.
- Greater muscular strength;
- Better movement coordination;
- Improved balance and posture;
In fact, physical activities such as walking, dancing, Tai Chi and yoga have shown interesting benefits. In other words, staying active helps maintain a better quality of life for seniors suffering from Parkinson’s disease.
2. Social activities: a solution to seniors’ loneliness
Although Parkinson’s disease is best known for its physical symptoms, we should not underestimate the psychological impact it can have on seniors living with this disorder. To avoid social isolation, seniors with Parkinson’s disease are strongly advised to keep several interesting cultural and social activities on their agenda.
For example, enjoy an evening out with friends, attend a group lesson or simply go on a fun cultural outing to see a show. The key point here is to find a leisure activity that allows you to enjoy a pleasant getaway, while maintaining your social ties with others. By following this recommendation, it is possible to limit the negative impacts of social isolation, which is more common among seniors living with conditions such as Parkinson’s disease.
3. Importance of good nutrition
Eating well is an advice that certainly applies to everyone, whatever our age or state of health. However, for seniors suffering from Parkinson’s disease, this advice takes on a particularly special importance!
Whether to reduce the impact of some physical symptoms such as osteoporosis or constipation, or by choosing specific foods that may slow the progression of the disease, a healthy, balanced diet is strongly recommended.
For your information, here is a short list of food products that are recommended for seniors living with Parkinson’s disease:
- Fresh fruit and vegetables;
- Omega-3-rich fish (like salmon for example);
- Olive oil and/or coconut oil;
- Foods that are high in fiber, calcium and vitamin D;
- as well as making sure to drink plenty of water to stay well hydrated.
Attaching importance to the food eaten also helps prevent undernutrition, which is common among seniors living with Parkinson’s disease. In addition to preventing malnutrition, good nutrition also helps maintain the strength needed to carry out daily activities independently, despite the extra demands on energy associated with some Parkinson’s symptoms, such as tremors and muscle rigidity.
4. Key role of significant support from relatives and family for seniors living with Parkinson’s disease
Living with Parkinson’s disease daily certainly implies its share of challenges. To better deal with this condition, it is therefore important to be well supported!
Whether through family members (children, brother/sister, nephew/niece, etc.), valued friends, or other relatives you can rely on, it is important to benefit from an appropriate level of support from those around you. Although maintaining a maximum level of autonomy remains a priority, it is more prudent to make sure there is a good social network around you in case of need.
For seniors living at home, the role of the caregiver takes on particular importance. From assisting with day-to-day tasks such as housekeeping, transportation or meal preparation for example, their presence may confer tremendous benefits on day-to-day aspects of life.
Considering the need for a professional assistance? Do not hesitate to contact Visavie’s team, who will guide you with attention and respect towards the caring services of our professional caregivers, always based on your real needs !
5. Choosing a comfortable and adapted living environment
Unfortunately, the course of Parkinson’s disease in older adults also involves a progression in symptoms. Choosing a comfortable living environment, adapted to its needs, can therefore make a significant difference.
If you, or an elderly relative, are confronted with the diagnosis of neurodegenerative disorder, you may consider two main options:
In either case, Visavie’s team is always available to support you with an adapted approach based on the day-to-day realities of seniors living with Parkinson’s disease. You can therefore benefit from specialized home care services provided by our professional caregivers.
6. Creating a safe environment
In response to the progression of Parkinsonism (name given to the signs and symptoms associated with this disease), modifications may be necessary in your living environment, helping to enjoy life to its fullest, while limiting day-to-day worries. This is why we recommend making sure you live in a safe and secure environment that fully respects your needs.
To design your living space, several simple things can be taken into consideration:
- installation of handrails (in corridors, stairs and the bathroom, for example);
- non-slip floor covering to prevent the risk of falls;
- adequate light in every room;
- an accessible ramp at the entrance to the home;
- and many other examples.
To assist seniors and their families with financial support for such home improvements, a number of government assistance programs and subsidies are available. So do not hesitate to take advantage of them to enhance your comfort and quality of life daily.
7. Follow available treatment and rehabilitation options
In addition to all these tips, we also suggest that you adhere to treatments prescribed by the health professionals in charge of your condition. From taking medication that alleviates the symptoms associated with the disease, to specific interventions that may be suggested by a doctor or specialized neurologist, following medical recommendations can certainly have a positive impact, reducing the adverse effects of Parkinson’s.
Rehabilitation treatments, such as physiotherapy, can also actually make some difference. Through personalized exercise programs, therapists can take preventive action aimed at limiting the progression of the disease. Muscle strengthening, improving balance, walking and posture, for example, all contribute to preserving maximum autonomy for seniors living with Parkinson’s disease.
More resources to enhance the quality of life for seniors with Parkinson’s disease
While all these tips can really help seniors living with Parkinson’s to enjoy a positive quality of life, getting to know the various complementary resources available is also important.
- Support and education initiatives such as Parkinson Québec’s EMPATIC program, or other programs offered across the country by organizations such as Parkinson Canada ;
- Specialized home care services for seniors living with diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia ;
- Assistance in your search for the best retirement home, based on your actual needs. Offered by Visavie‘s caring Senior Living Advisors, these search services are provided free of charge to help seniors as well as their families.
Through all these recommendations, the most important thing to remember is that solutions do exist to improve the quality of life of seniors living with Parkinson’s disease. Depending on the stage of the condition, your personal tastes, as well as your current and future needs, you can choose which advice best suits your personal situation, either for yourself or for an elderly relative. All this, while making the most of the various support resources available to you!