If you are reading this, you probably know a lot about Parkinson’s already. However, just in case you don’t, our favourite Back to the Future kid, Michael J Fox has some fantastic information on Parkinson’s, feel free to read more about it there.
I shall assume that you know about Parkinson’s from here on in, so that we can focus on how to manage it.
Common Complications and Hospitalising issues to watch out for:
As Parkinson’s progresses, it can cause life-threatening hospitalising complications. The most common are:
- Fractures and broken bones from falls
- Swallowing problems which can cause choking
- Pneumonia or other pulmonary conditions as when food, saliva, liquids or vomit is breathed into the lungs or airways
- Urinary tract infections (UTIs) can be incredibly painful and very dangerous as well
Caring for someone with Parkinson’s:
Caring for a loved one with Parkinson’s is a huge and emotionally draining task, however, there are also a huge number of people you can call on to support you.
- Use your friends and family: Friends and family, no matter what you think, are surprisingly open to helping you. Check out our article on growing and deploying your support network
- Employ a carer: Finding a fantastic carer can make things so much easier. Here is how to find one
- Tell your employer: It is in their interest to make arrangements that enable you to continue working for them, whist caring at the same time. They also have a number of legal obligations, such as giving you time off, something that CarersUK can tell you more about
- Talk to people who know: Parkinsons.org run a fantastic support service, so do check them out
On to preventing the specific issues that can lead to hospitalisation and worse:
- Minimise the probability of falls by setting up the home effectively. You can see our article on that here. On-top of that guidance, installing chairs as rest-points and rails is also worthwhile.
- When eating and swallowing, make sure that small mouthfuls are taken, Some professional carers recommend getting cutlery that makes this automatic. Keep a glass of water nearby and make sure that swallowing is done with the chin pointed downwards. Further information can be found here.
- With Pnunomia, encourage lung function by making sure the person does as much exercise as possible. Keeping a warm and clean house also helps, as does taking early signs very seriously, in tandem with the GP
- UTIs are tough to deal with, especially if a catheter has to be used. Keeping the area clean and ensuring that plenty of water is drunk is important. Many carers find that patients don’t want to drink too much as going to the toilet is such a challenge, to providing other options such as a commode and managing any incontinence issues is important to enabling this
Parkinson’s.org has some further information on caring, that you may also find useful. The following links are also useful, if you want to read further: