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My Elderly Loved One Was Diagnosed with PD, Now What?

By Rick Cohen, 9:00 am on

By the time your senior loved one is diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, both of you have probably suspected that something was wrong. Consequently, it’s not unusual to have mixed reactions ranging from relief of finally receiving a diagnosis to fear of not knowing how the condition will affect your loved one in the future.

Get More Than One Opinion

Any reputable doctor isn’t going to mind you or your loved one insisting on another opinion after the initial diagnosis. The reason for doing so is due to the difficulty of positively confirming a diagnosis in the early stages of the disease, with the following conditions sometimes misdiagnosed as Parkinson’s:

• Multiple symptom atrophy
• Progressive supra-nuclear palsy
• Lewy body dementia
• Stroke
• Encephalitis (inflammation of the brain)
• Head trauma

Find Local Support

For Parkinson’s caregivers and family members, support groups offer a place to discuss concerns and find comfort from others in a similar situation. For your loved one, group classes (yoga, exercise, arts and crafts) can provide support from other people experiencing the same condition while helping him or her maintain dexterity, hand-eye coordination, and muscle strength.

Schedule Physical Therapy

Scheduling physical therapy soon after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s can help your loved one feel that they’re doing something productive to counter the effects of the disease. Both therapists and Milwaukee home care providers encourage caregivers and family members to participate together so that recommended exercises can be continued at home between sessions.

Seek Input from Multiple Specialists

As Parkinson’s progresses, your loved one may need to modify his or her routine to compensate for difficulties with walking, balance, chewing and swallowing. The following specialists may be able to help your loved one adjust to Parkinson’s complications as the condition advances:

• Dieticians (to recommend ways to prepare food to reduce the risk of choking and address digestion issues)
• Speech therapists (to help strengthen muscles in the throat)
• Neurologists (to periodically evaluate motor skills)
• Psychologists (to deal with bouts of depression and anxiety sometimes experienced by Parkinson’s patients)

A diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease can be stressful for you and your loved one. However, it’s a condition that can often be managed with careful observation. As a caregiver, you can further help your loved one by tracking symptoms, establishing productive communications with his or her doctor(s), and providing emotional support.

For more information on caring for a loved one with Parkinson’s, reach out to Home Care Assistance. In addition to Parkinson’s care, we also provide dementia, Alzheimer’s, and stroke care in Milwaukee. Our caregivers are expertly trained to manage the challenging symptoms often present in advanced conditions, and our Care Managers are available 24/7 to adjust care schedules, answer questions, or just offer a listening ear on tough days. To learn more, call (262) 782-3383 and request a complimentary in-home consultation today.

After a Parkinson’s Diagnosis, What’s Next?