The Aging Life Care Manager’s Roadmap to Working with the Parkinson’s Disease Client
By Debra Moler R.N., B.S.N., C.M.C
April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month. The Aging Life Care Association will be featuring articles that raise awareness of Parkinson’s Disease and the ways Aging Life Care Professionals can support clients and families affected.
Parkinson’s Disease affects 1 million people in the United States and 50,000 are diagnosed each year. One in 100 people over age of 60 years of age has Parkinson’s Disease. There is no cure for Parkinson’s Disease but it is a disease that needs to be well-managed in order to maintain quality of life and manage the signs and symptoms of disease.
The following is a road map to managing a client with Parkinson’s Disease.
- Build the Health Care Team
- Work with a Movement Disorder Specialist. This is a neurologist who has taken additional training in diseases that affect physical movement like Parkinson’s. Contact one of the national Parkinson’s organizations for recommendations such as American Parkinson Disease Association or Parkinson’s Foundation if you need a recommendation.
- Identify and work with Speech Therapist preferably that is LSVT (Lee Silverman Voice Technique) certified. It focuses on increasing vocal loudness. Speech Therapy will also assess swallowing function and provide strategies to avoid aspiration.
- Identify and work with Physical Therapist that specializes in Parkinson’s Disease preferably one that is LSVT BIG trained. Therapy is critical even if newly diagnosed. The benefits of therapy are that it will increase motor coordination and balance. It will also reduce the risk of falls which is a number one reason for trip to the hospital. Another benefit is it also helps improving positive outlook for your client.
- Keep Them Moving
- Thirty minutes of exercise daily. Check local Parkinson’s organizations for assorted classes such as Rock Steady Boxing, Yoga, Tai Chi, and a dance therapy program. These type of classes helps the body with turning, balancing, controlling the posture and walking.
- Monitor Their Medication
- Assist in ensuring medications are taken on time every time to ensure optimal effects of medications and to minimize off periods when the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease are exacerbated. Set alarms on phones or timers to ensure timely delivery. Instruct on taking medication 30 minutes before meal or 60 minutes after the meal allow for best absorption of medication. Obtain an Aware and Care kit from the Parkinson’s Foundation so that they are well prepared in event of an Emergency Room visit or hospitalization. Instruct client and care partner use of the Aware and Care Kit. This kit includes important information for health care staff such as drugs to avoid using for Parkinson’s clients. Keep your client’s current list of medications and actual medications in it to avoid interruption of their medication schedule.
- Support the Spouse or Care Partner
- Encourage them to attend Parkinson’s Support Group meetings
- Encourage them to take care of themselves. Encourage them to accept help from family and friends who are willing to help. Obtain help in the home for respite care.
- Encourage them to continue with social activities even if client is reluctant to socialize. Most times once at social activities the client enjoys the socialization.
- Develop a contingency emergency plan on what happens if spouse or Care Partner is hospitalized.
Building your health care team, involving client in regular exercise, getting medications on time every time and supporting the spouse or Care Partner will achieve and maintain quality of life for your client with Parkinson’s Disease.
About the Author: Debra Moler, RN, BSN, CMC, is an Advanced Professional member of the Aging Life Care Association and works at Firstat RN Care Management Services.
This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association® and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.