The Kensington White Plains hosted the enlightening event, “My Loved One Has Been Diagnosed with Parkinson’s…Now What?“
This event offered valuable insights into understanding Parkinson’s disease, managing symptoms, exploring the latest treatment options, and building a strong support network.
Keep reading to learn practical strategies for caregiving and living well after a Parkinson’s diagnosis.
Our promise is to love and care for your family as we do our own.
What is Parkinson’s disease?
A Parkinson’s diagnosis can be a life-changing event, not only for the individuals directly affected but also for their families and caregivers.
Parkinson’s disease is a chronic, progressive neurological disorder, known for its ley symptoms of tremors, rigidity, and movement difficulties, impacting millions globally.
Every year, approximately 90,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with Parkinson’s, making it one of the more common neurodegenerative diseases, particularly among older adults. The average age of onset is around 60 years, though younger people can also be affected in rarer cases.
The progression of Parkinson’s is highly variable for each person, making it challenging to offer a definitive prognosis. Typically, the disease has 5 distinct phases, ranging from mild symptoms in the earliest stages to disabling symptoms in the later stages.
For the individual, it often means grappling with the progressive loss of motor control, potential cognitive changes, and the emotional toll of a chronic condition.
Families must adapt to new roles as caregivers, balancing emotional support with practical care needs.
Demystifying Parkinson’s: education and awareness
Parkinson’s disease is a complex neurological disorder primarily caused by the loss of dopamine-producing cells in the brain. While the exact cause of this cell death is still not fully understood, it is believed to be caused by Lewy bodies in the brain, a type of protein accumulation.
Parkinson’s symptoms vary but commonly include shakiness, muscle stiffness, slowed movement, slurred speech, and balance problems.
Contrary to a common misconception, Parkinson’s is not inherently a fatal disease, but it is a chronic and progressive condition that requires ongoing management. In some cases, Parkinson’s disease can evolve into Parkinson’s disease dementia.
Coping with Parkinson’s involves a combination of medical treatment, lifestyle adjustments, and emotional support. Medications can significantly manage symptoms, and therapies like physical, occupational, and speech therapy can help maintain function and independence.
For families, coping means finding a balance between caring for their loved ones and taking care of their own emotional and physical well-being. Support groups, counseling, and respite care can provide much-needed support and relief.
Building a support network and managing a lifestyle
In the face of a Parkinson’s diagnosis, building a connected support network and making key lifestyle adjustments are necessary steps.
Below we outline actionable strategies to establish a supportive healthcare framework and adapt daily routines for improved quality of life:
- Create a healthcare team: Connect with a neurologist, primary care physician, and specialized therapists (physical, occupational, and speech) to address different aspects of Parkinson’s care.
- Leverage support groups: Engage with Parkinson’s support groups for emotional support, shared experiences, and practical advice. Visit our “Kensington Konnect” caregiver hub for more information.
- Exercise and nutrition: Prioritize regular physical activities tailored to Parkinson’s patients and adopt a balanced diet to maintain overall health and manage symptoms.
- Home safety: Implement modifications in the home to ensure safety and ease of movement.
- Routine adjustments: Adapt daily routines to balance rest and activity and manage medication effectively.
3 immediate planning steps after receiving a Parkinson’s diagnosis
Taking these action steps can significantly aid in managing Parkinson’s disease, providing a structured approach to both healthcare and lifestyle adjustments:
- Book necessary medical and therapy appointments.
- Start discussions about legal, financial, and future care planning.
- Identify potential caregivers and explore respite care options for future needs.
Communication, relationships, and planning for the future
Now let’s explore insights into the nuanced aspects of Parkinson’s impact on personal dynamics and the importance of early legal and financial planning. This offers guidance for maintaining healthy relationships and preparing for the future.
Legal and financial planning
Initiate discussions about future care preferences and legal documents like power of attorney and healthcare directives.
Consult with financial advisors to plan for long-term care and manage financial resources efficiently.
Look into assistive technologies such as speech-generating apps, such as the “Speak Up for Parkinson’s” app that can help those with Parkinson’s practice speech therapy on their own.
Work with a dietitian to create a Parkinson’s-specific nutritional plan focusing on anti-inflammatory foods and proper hydration.
Explore respite care options
Research and plan for respite care options, such as adult day services, where home caregivers can take their loved one during the day when they need to run errands or take a short break.
Empowering caregivers with The Kensington’s THRIVE Parkinson’s program
The THRIVE program at The Kensington White Plains is an innovative initiative tailored for individuals with Parkinson’s and their caregivers. It focuses on enhancing quality of life through:
- Specialized wellness classes: Offering weekly on-site and virtual classes like Tai Chi, music therapy, and expressive arts.
- Comprehensive care: Providing access to physical, occupational, and speech therapy, along with cutting-edge technologies for assessment and treatment.
- Caregiver support: Addressing caregiver burnout with resources and educational events, emphasizing the importance of self-care and community support.
Your partner in Parkinson’s care — The Kensington White Plains
The Kensington White Plains is a distinguished enhanced assisted living and memory care community, specializing in comprehensive care for dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS, and multiple sclerosis, located in White Plains, New York.
Our Promise is to love and care for your family as we do our own.