Approximately one million adults in the United States live with Parkinson’s disease. The stiffness, tremors, loss of coordination, and other symptoms associated with the disorder make life challenging. However, the type and severity of symptoms vary among seniors. Unlike Alzheimer’s and other disorders, Parkinson’s isn’t considered fatal. Results of a study performed by researchers from the Mayo Clinic indicate seniors diagnosed with Parkinson’s may live with the disease for 20 years or more.
The Mayo Clinic Study
Researchers evaluated the medical records of 461 people living with disorders categorized as synucleinopathies, which include Parkinson’s. They compared these medical histories with those of people of similar age and sex who didn’t have neurological disorders. The team learned that the life span of the subjects was decreased on average by one year. However, if subjects developed Lewy body dementia or other forms of cognitive impairment, life span decreased more. The study and results were published in the May 15th, 2017, issue of JAMA Neurology.
The advances made in treating Parkinson’s enable seniors to live longer. However, seniors must work closely with their healthcare teams to effectively manage symptoms and explore treatment options. There are several ways seniors with Parkinson’s can increase their longevity.
Follow a Healthy Diet
To maintain optimal overall health, seniors with Parkinson’s should consider sticking to a diet consisting of lean meats, fish, fruits, and vegetables, all of which are recommended in the Mediterranean diet regimen. The antioxidants found in this diet reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, which encourages premature cell aging and death. Dr. John E. Duda, from the University of Pennsylvania’s Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Center, advises seniors to take levodopa between meals. Otherwise, protein digestion and metabolism interfere with absorption of the medication. Duda also suggests saving protein intake for the last meal of the day, avoiding large meals, and drinking up to 64 ounces of fluid each day. Seniors should also get adequate amounts of vitamin D, as many are commonly deficient in this vitamin.
In-home caregivers can be a fantastic asset for seniors who want to adopt healthier lifestyles. When considering elder care, families should make sure their senior loved ones have the resources they need to maintain their independence and remain healthy. Trusted in-home care professionals can assist seniors with daily tasks like cooking, bathing, and exercise, and they can also encourage them to focus on healthier lifestyle habits.
Engage in Regular Physical Activity
Exercising maintains musculoskeletal strength. Physical activity also increases flexibility and balance while preventing osteoporosis. Seniors with Parkinson’s should choose a combination of aerobic and strength training exercises, which may include cycling, dancing, swimming, and resistance training. They should vary the type of exercise, warm up before beginning the activity, and allow the body a chance to cool down afterward.
Make Safety Modifications in the Home
The many assistive devices available to seniors reduce the likelihood of falls and enhance mobility, if needed. Consider installing grab bars in your loved one’s bathroom. Eliminate throw rugs unless they can be secured to the floor to prevent slipping. Encourage your loved one to use a cane, walker, or motorized scooter to maintain independence.
Aging in place can present a few unique challenges for older adults. Some only require part-time assistance with exercise or meal preparation, while others are living with serious illnesses and benefit more significantly from receiving live-in care. Rhode Island Home Care Assistance are leaders in the elderly in-home care industry for good reason. We tailor our care plans based on each senior’s individual needs, our caregivers continue to receive updated training in senior care as new developments arise, and we also offer comprehensive care for seniors with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Parkinson’s.
Seniors with Parkinson’s need to keep in touch with family members and friends. Having active social lives can help them maintain emotional and cognitive health. Encourage your loved one to attend community functions, take a class, plan get-togethers or outings on a regular basis, and stay connected via mobile devices or a personal computer.
A professional caregiver can be a wonderful source of support for a senior with Parkinson’s. Families looking for top-rated Rhode Island homecare providers can reach out to Home Care Assistance. From respite care to specialized Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care, there are many ways we can make life easier for seniors and their loved ones. To hire a dedicated caregiver, call Home Care Assistance at (401) 284-0979 today.