May 2, 2018 by Abby Foyle
April is Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month and, as members of the senior care community, we wanted to bring awareness to both the facts of the disease as well as introduce the way local resources can help.
Since its discovery in 1817, Parkinson’s has become one of the most well-known diseases affecting the elderly. It is a degenerative disease that attacks the brain cells that produce dopamine. Dopamine controls movement in the body as well as sending signals from the brain to other parts of the body. There are about 1 million known cases in the US, and is diagnosed mainly through the use of the acronym TRAP (Tremors, Rigidity, Akinesia [lack of movement], and Postural instability). Although much is known about the symptoms, little has been found in regards to cause and treatment. Parkinson’s is best known and recognized by the tremors seen in the extremities of those affected.
Although seniors with Parkinson’s are dearly loved by their family, they often need extra help around the home. One of Comfort Keepers’ clients with Parkinson’s, “Howard,” has a caregiver, Peggy, so his wife, “Doris,” can go to Bible study, the grocery store, or other appointments without worrying about Howard’s safety. Not only does it give Doris peace of mind to have a set of eyes on Howard, his caregiver has also forged a personal connection with him. Doris was thrilled to see Howard actually having a conversation with his caregiver when she came home one day. Parkinson’s had stolen Howard’s joy and his desire to communicate, but the relationship Peggy developed with him brought him life again.
One activity that is greatly beneficial to those affected by Parkinson’s disease is physical exercise. Rock Steady, a boxing gym geared toward increasing strength and flexibility, offers a fun alternative that promotes health and wellbeing among those who have Parkinson’s. There are 3 locations in South King County—Auburn, Renton and Covington, and more information can be found on their website at https://rocksteadyboxing.org/find-a-class. There are also many support groups in the area as well, and more information can be found at www.apdaparkinson.org. If you or a loved one have Parkinson’s and need any help in the home like Doris and Howard, Comfort Keepers can provide loving in-home care as well as respite care, including meal preparation, medication reminders, companionship and any assistance needed with personal care.