Can Assisted Living Help People with Parkinson's Disease?
Mike McClernonOct 12th, 2022
According to statistics, nearly 1,000,000 Americans currently live with Parkinson's disease. With approximately 60,000 Americans diagnosed each year, experts predict that the number of Parkinson's disease patients in the United States will grow to 1.2 million by 2030.
That's not an insignificant number of people who will require specialized care in the future. As Parkinson's is a progressive disease, it will only worsen over time, severely affecting the person's ability to move or perform basic daily tasks. People in the later stages of the condition will not be able to live independently and require full-time support.
As a Senior Living Advisor (Mike McClernon, 516-254-9481), I know that the challenge for many families is finding adequate care to help a loved one with Parkinson's function on a daily basis. My own mother lived with Parkinson's for 10+ years, the last two with Lewy Body dementia and significant physical limitations. The most viable solution is placing the person in an Assisted Living community, where all their needs are taken care of on an ongoing basis.
What is Parkinson's disease?
Parkinson's disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder of the central nervous system that affects movement. It often presents itself initially in the form of tremors in one hand.
Medical experts believe that the condition is caused by damage to the nerve cells in the brain. This damage causes a drop in dopamine, the neurotransmitter chemical that helps transfer messages from our brains to our muscles. Our body's ability to produce dopamine on demand affects our ability to move freely. When dopamine production is reduced or eliminated, the connection between our brain and muscles is severely limited.
Some medications available can act as a substitute for dopamine, slowing down the symptoms. However, there is currently no cure, and the symptoms may ultimately worsen.
What are the stages of Parkinson's disease?
The medical community typically divides a patient's Parkinson's journey into five stages:
This is the mildest form of Parkinson's disease. In some cases, the symptoms are very mild and might not yet interfere with the person's daily routines. However, the symptoms that do present themselves are typically isolated to one side of their body.
People in stage 2 often experience muscle stiffness, tremors, changes in facial expressions, and trembling, sometimes on both sides of the body. They may even display noticeable changes in their posture and gait. Stage 2 symptoms can make completing daily tasks more complicated.
This is the middle stage of Parkinson's disease, where the symptoms from stage 2 have become much more noticeable. People in this stage may also start walking with a shuffle or develop balance issues, increasing their risk of falling. Although daily tasks now require more time and effort to complete, many stage 3 people can still accomplish them on their own.
In stage 4, people start to experience great difficulty standing without using a walker or other assistive device. Muscle movements and reactions are also significantly diminished, making living alone challenging and potentially dangerous.
The final stage of Parkinson's brings about severe symptoms that require around-the-clock care. Someone in stage 5 will find standing extremely difficult, if not impossible. They may even need a wheelchair. The person may also experience an inability to control major and minor muscles or speak.
No one's Parkinson's journey is the same, and people will progress through the different stages at different times. However, the onset of Parkinson's dementia can further complicate matters and requires more specialized care.
What is Parkinson's disease dementia?
A specific type of dementia called Lewy Body is often (though not always) associated with Parkinson's. It's estimated that 50 to 80 percent of people with Parkinson's will develop symptoms associated with dementia. These symptoms include:
- Confusion, delusion, and hallucinations
- Difficulty sleeping
- Mood swings
- Slurred speech
- Changes in appetite or energy levels
Your loved one's doctor can help your family assess your loved one's condition and make recommendations for proper care. In many cases, placement in Memory Care, a community designed to support people diagnosed with dementia, is the most prudent move to ensure the person gets the round-the-clock care they need.
Can Assisted Living Help People with Parkinson's?
Many families try to provide care for their loved ones starting at stage three of the disease. However, as the person begins to have more difficulty performing the basic Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), such as dressing, bathing, toileting, grooming, cooking, or cleaning, care needs become more challenging. Hiring a home healthcare company is another option, but as the frequency of care needs increases, professional in-home care becomes expensive.
Assisted Living communities provide all the support needed through all stages of Parkinson's disease, along with excellent socialization opportunities, activities, comfortable residences, and nutritious meals.
Families are welcome to visit as often as they like, with the peace of mind that their loved one is safe and in good hands. In my experience, once the person is settled in Assisted Living, they enjoy better interactions with their families than they did at home. In addition, families can now concentrate less on providing care and more on enjoying time with their loved ones.
I understand how terrible Parkinson's disease is, as it has touched my own family. Thankfully, Assisted Living communities provide families with the required level of care to give our loved ones the best quality of life possible, every day.
No-cost help finding Assisted Living on Long Island
When an elderly loved one has developed Parkinson's disease or is unable to live independently anymore due to aging, illness, or injury, placement into an Assisted Living community is often a prudent choice for families. When you're ready to explore your options on Long Island, contact Mike McClernon of Assisted Living Locators.
Mike has collaborated with hundreds of families just like yours to help find the most appropriate Assisted Living community for their older relatives. He will ensure that you have all the information you need to decide where your loved ones will thrive and be well-cared for during their vintage years.
Contact Mike today at 516-254-9481 or firstname.lastname@example.org to explore Senior Living Community options for the older person in your life. His phone is always on!