Parkinson's Awareness Week

Parkinson's Awareness Week Campaign

Parkinson’s Disease is a progressive neurological disorder and about 90% of the time begins showing symptoms in the 60s. Because of the nature of this disorder, many of those who suffer from Parkinson’s end up in care homes in the later stages of the disease and their life.

Symptoms that can affect an individual’s ability to look after themselves, meaning they must go to care homes, include a tremor, loss of smell, trouble sleeping, trouble moving and dizziness/fainting. This can put an increasing pressure on care and nursing homes to cater for these conditions.

Whilst regular exercise, support from family and friends, physiotherapy and some medication can help, the practical elements of a care home can also enable a more active and healthier lifestyle from someone suffering with Parkinson’s.

Some points to consider:

  • Thick floor rugs are difficult to walk on. Thin carpets or wood floors are better.
  • Shuffling gait can lead to trips if the flooring is uneven
  • Homes should be fully adapted for wheelchair use.
  • Fabric or rope pulls on cupboards and door handles can be easier to use.
  • Making sure surfaces for leaving things on are between chest and waist level for easier access and less need for reaching.
  • Door knobs might be much harder to use than handles.
  • Adaptive handles are now available on things like cutlery and toothbrushes which enable more independence (image)
  • Buttons can be replaced with Velcro
  • Some with Parkinson’s might benefit from regular massages.
  • Items like rubber squeezy balls can encourage muscle use.
  • Avoiding over stimulation which can lead to distress.

Whilst care homes are not as well designed for Parkinson’s as they are for Alzheimer’s, it’s not hard to improve the care home environment with these simple tips. Furthermore, staff training to enable an understanding of the disease can also be an easy and beneficial way to improve the quality of life for those in care with Parkinson’s.