6 Physical Effects Often Experienced by Aging Adults with Parkinson’s

By Mark Schmidt, 9:00 am on September 9, 2019

Even though Parkinson’s disease can impact cognitive skills and emotional wellbeing, this condition is closely tied to a variety of physical problems as well. There currently isn’t a permanent cure for Parkinson’s, but doctors have come up with quite a few treatments and therapies that can greatly boost quality of life. Here’s a quick look at six of the most common physical impacts of Parkinson’s disease and some steps seniors and their caregivers can take to address those issues. 

1. Loss of Balance

Parkinson’s disease damages structures in the brain called the basal ganglia, which are essential for balance. When the basal ganglia become damaged, seniors have a very difficult time walking on their own, increasing their risk of falling over. According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, seniors with Parkinson’s should meet with a physical therapist at least three times a week for balance training. 

Many seniors in the early stages of Parkinson’s are able to live on their own, but they may need a bit of help with everyday activities, such as exercising and preparing nutritious meals. Aging adults who require assistance with the tasks of daily living can benefit from reliable homecare services. Families trust Home Care Assistance to provide the high-quality care their elderly loved ones need and deserve. Our caregivers are trained to help seniors prevent and manage serious illnesses and encourage them to make healthier decisions as they age.

2. Muscle Rigidity

Muscle rigidity is one of the primary symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, and it can drastically reduce range of motion. Regular exercise is an excellent treatment option for muscle rigidity, but seniors might want to consider deep brain stimulation as well. During this procedure, a surgical team uses pulses of energy to activate the areas of the brain responsible for motor skills. 

3. Tremors

The vast majority of seniors with Parkinson’s are going to experience a symptom known as resting tremors. When seniors have resting tremors, the muscles in their hands, wrists, and arms involuntarily twitch. Levodopa is a drug that can minimize tremors for a short time, but it usually only works temporarily. As the disease progresses, seniors may eventually need help with everyday activities such as shaving, brushing their teeth, and eating. 

4. Difficulty Chewing and Swallowing

One of the reasons many of those who have Parkinson’s lose weight is because the disease can make it very difficult to chew and swallow. Severe weight loss can have a negative impact on overall health, which is why you and the rest of your loved one’s caregiving team must consider making some alterations to his or her diet. Most seniors with Parkinson’s benefit from eating softer foods that are easy to chew and swallow, including fresh smoothies, protein shakes, cooked vegetables, soups, and stews. 

Living with a serious health condition can make it challenging for seniors to age in place. However, they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional live-in care. Tucson seniors can benefit from assistance with meal prep, bathing, transportation to the doctor’s office, medication reminders, and much more.

5. Digestive Disorders

Constipation is a very common issue among seniors with Parkinson’s, and it can cause extreme discomfort when left untreated. To combat constipation, most experts suggest drinking plenty of water and eating more produce throughout the day. Mild stool softeners and laxatives can be useful as well, but those medications should only be used as a temporary solution. 

6. Chronic Joint and Muscle Pain

Ongoing pain is another symptom many seniors with Parkinson’s experience at some point. In addition to exercising and following a healthy diet, these individuals should also consider alternative treatments, such as massage therapy and acupuncture. More research needs to be done on pain management for people with this symptom, but limited studies have revealed that massage therapy and acupuncture can be very beneficial for seniors who have Parkinson’s-related pain.

Caring for a loved one with Parkinson’s can be extremely challenging, and a compassionate professional caregiver can be a wonderful source of support. If your elderly loved one is living with a serious medical condition and needs help managing the tasks of daily living, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a Tucson at-home care agency you can trust. Our caregivers are available 24/7, there are no hidden fees in our contracts, and we offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee on all of our in-home care services. If your loved one needs help with the challenges of aging, call one of our compassionate Care Managers today at (520) 276-6555.