Ways to help your firends, family with Parkinson’s disease
Parkinson’s disease can be frustrating for its sufferers and their friends and family.
According to Susan Goulas of the American Parkinson’s disease Information Reference Center, the disease is not catching or hereditary, and no one knows what causes it. Some of the dopamine cells begin to die at an accelerated rate, and Parkinson’s is a slowly progressive disease that occurs as people get older.
Medicine can help, and people with Parkinson’s must take stronger and stronger medicine over the years. Some sufferers may feel sick and have good days and bad days.
In an information sheet, Goulas offers friends and family members ways to deal with Parkinson’s disease patients that help them retain their dignity.
Sometimes sufferers cry and appear to be upset. Ignore the tears and keep talking, Goulas says, until they gain control.
They may shake or not, as medicine can control some of the tremors.
Sufferers may have a wooden expression and may not be able to show facial expressions in a conversation. They may drool as well.
Goulas asks people to give sufferers the time to get going, as they may move slowly and hurrying them doesn’t help. Patients may be stiff or rigid. They need to take their time.
Sufferers need to walk every day and do pushing, stretching and bending exercises. It helps to have someone walk and do exercises with them.
Parkinson’s disease patients may begin to speak higher and wispier as the deep tones in their voices disappear.
They may think more slowly as well. Goulas recommends that people give patients the chance to talk and get their thoughts together in their own time.
Patients also have difficulty sleeping and cannot control when they can sleep or when they are tired. Let them sleep when they can.
Overall, Goulas suggests that people who interact with Parkinson’s patients should remember they want to continue to be a part of life; give them time, an chance, and be their friend.
The Good Vibrations Parkinson’s disease Support Group meets once a month. On Feb. 5, the group will begin its meeting at the Carson Valley Physiotherapists clinic with a tour by director Katherine Replogle. Members will then go to Denny’s in Minden for the presentation of the group’s “Sunshine” award.
For more information about the disease or the support group, call Carol Hathaway at 266-3402.
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