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Charting Your Course
With Parkinson's Disease Care

By Kristine Dwyer
(Page 1 of 3)

Caring for a loved one with Parkinson’s disease at home can be like sailing a ship through uncharted waters. Currents, wind shifts and changing weather patterns all influence the ship’s course on a daily basis. The effects of Parkinson’s disease also present an unpredictable course and caregivers must continually seek solutions and a positive direction for the care they provide.

Barbara has been caring for her husband for over 10 years. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and she has remained steadfast with his care at home. Through the years, she has been creative in developing practical ideas that save time, require less energy and reduce stress. Most importantly, employment of these concepts has enabled her to maintain the independence and dignity of her husband.

In the early stages of her husband’s disease, Barbara made an appointment for occupational and physical therapy consultations along with a home environment assessment. This decision helped her to begin planning for the physical care and necessary home modifications to support her husband’s needs. She offers these additional ideas for caregivers to customize their caregiving procedures as needs arise:

Mobility Aids/Furniture:

    Wheelchairs—consider two separate chairs—one to use for indoor mobility and at the kitchen table (can be locked in place) and one to use for outings to the mall or family gatherings.

    Walker—the best investment has been a four-wheeled walker with balloon tires, hand brakes and a padded seat. It glides over the ground and uneven surfaces and was paid for by Medicare and a co-insurance policy.

    Recliner—add a wooden base to the chair to raise the height six to 10 inches.

    This makes it easier for the care receiver to get in and out of the chair alone.

    Electric lift chairs are another option and may be partially paid for by Medicare.

Bathroom Safety:

    Install grab bars in several wall locations and a safety handle on the edge of the bathtub. Be sure to drill the bars into a wall stud for maximum hold and safety.

    Remove the toilet seat and place a commode frame with arm rests over the toilet or purchase an elevated toilet seat with raised arms.

    For sanitary purposes, keep flushable wet wipes available for use after toileting. Wipes can also be used to clean bathroom fixtures.

    Add a non-skid bath mat, a bath bench and a handheld shower head to allow the care receiver to assist with their own shower.

    For grooming, use an electric razor and an electric toothbrush to encourage self-care.

Incontinence Products:

    Use incontinent pads and adult briefs in layers as needed for full protection against wetting through.

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