Elderly Care for Parkinson’s Disease Patients

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Elderly Care for Parkinson’s Disease

 
As Canada’s population ages, the prevalence of age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s, arthritis, macular degeneration, and type 2 diabetes is increasing. Parkinson’s disease, a chronic, progressive neurological disorder, is also on the rise. Nearly 100,000 Canadians have Parkinson's disease, and approximately 5,500 new cases are diagnosed each year. Treatment for Parkinson’s may include working with a family physician, a neurologist, a Parkinson's nurse specialist, a pharmacist, an occupational therapist, and a physiotherapist. In addition, patients may need to consult with a social worker or a psychologist, a speech and language pathologist, and a dietician.
 
If you or a member of your family has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, each of these professionals will have something valuable to offer. However, one of the most important members of the team you will put together can be the caregiver or personal support worker (PSW.)
 

What To Expect

 
Any time one is diagnosed with a life-changing illness, the patient and his/her family experience shock and anxiety about the future. Although there are treatments for the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, there is currently no cure. The most common symptoms include tremors, impaired balance, and rigidity of the muscles. Other symptoms may include fatigue, sleep disturbances, and depression. Because Parkinson’s is a progressive ailment, it’s important that patients and their families put supports in place as soon as these become necessary.
 
There are many agencies that provide caregivers. Some of these agencies offer a limited number of services, delivered by a rotating roster of PSWs. This results in care that can be less than optimal, and inevitably leads to frustration for patients and their families. A far better option is to seek out a firm that will match you or your loved one with a specific caregiver on the basis of compatibility. It’s best to interview candidates and choose a PSW who is a good "fit” for the client. This might include complementary temperaments, a similar sense of humour, a common mother tongue, or shared interests and hobbies.
 

Support for Daily Living

 
Make sure to select an assisted living agency that hires qualified and experienced personnel. Any caregiver you engage should have a PSW certificate from a respected college or learning institution, and should be properly screened and insured. He or she should have at least one year of experience in the field and should be knowledgeable about Parkinson’s in particular.
 
You’ll want to consider the fact that your family’s situation may evolve, so choosing an agency that provides flexibility regarding hours and locations is a good move.
 
Also make sure that the agency’s personnel provide a wide variety of services. You’ll want a PSW who can provide whatever is best for your family, and that can include everything from administering medication, driving the client to a dinner party, doing laundry, or playing cards.
 
Finally, look for an agency that is able to provide plenty of references and testimonials from former and current clients. A caregiver can become an integral part of your family’s plan for coping with Parkinson’s disease, and the right PSW can make a tremendous difference to your quality of life.
 
In fact, a good caregiver can be one of your greatest assets in facing the challenges that living with Parkinson’s can bring.
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