Finding the right support as Parkinson’s disease progresses

Aged Care, Consumers December 21, 2018

Each day, 30 Australians are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Besides dementia, Parkinson’s disease is one of the most common neurodegenerative disorders and is recognised as a “global phenomenon” by Parkinson’s Australia. Parkinson’s disease affects individuals in very different ways and those diagnosed often require tailored support to help them improve their quality of life.

What is Parkinson’s disease?

According to Parkinson’s Australia, Parkinson’s disease is a “progressive neurological condition, which is characterised by both motor (movement) and non-motor symptoms”. As individuals age, the risk of Parkinson’s rises, however, the disorder can be diagnosed at any age.

The key symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include:

  • uncontrollable shaking and tremors,
  • slower movements,
  • stiffness in limbs,
  • and difficulty with balance and standing up.

In the process of diagnosing Parkinson’s, health professionals use a scale which helps people to understand which “stage” of Parkinson’s they are experiencing. Each stage of the disease is characterised by different symptoms which typically become more severe with time.

Stage 1: Mild

The first stage of Parkinson’s is the mildest form of Parkinson’s and at this stage, many people are receiving an initial diagnosis. Generally, the first stage of Parkinson’s does not interfere with daily routine, tasks and lifestyle. If an individual is in the first stage of Parkinson’s, they may experience difficulties in movement which are confined to one side of the body.

Stage 2: Moderate

Many symptoms that are recognisable in the first stage of Parkinson’s are much more noticeable in stage two. These symptoms might be muscle stiffness, tremors, trembling, changes in facial expression, difficulties walking, altered posture or speech abnormalities.

Often, the first two stages of Parkinson’s are experienced by individuals for a number of months or years before they develop further. According to Healthline, many people with Parkinson’s have the ability to live alone, however, some tasks may become more difficult.

If you or someone you know is beginning to experience the first or second stage of Parkinson’s, they might benefit from receiving weekly or daily support from a motivated independent support worker on the Mable platform. Mable allows individuals to determine the details of support sessions, including whether the support is once-off or ongoing, what type of services are needed and specific dates and times of support sessions.

Stage 3: Middle

The third stage of Parkinson’s is often a significant turning point for individuals living with the disease, despite symptoms being similar to those typically recognised in stage two.

The third stage is characterised by a distinct loss of balance, decreased reflexes and slower movements. These symptoms can potentially cause falls which may further diminish the individuals’ independence and physical health. For more information on how you could help prevent your loved one falling in their home, take a look at our blog.

At this stage, weekly support from an independent support worker may be beneficial for an individual experiencing symptoms of Parkinson’s. An independent support worker can help to improve an individual’s independence, contribute to feeling in control and can help enable them to complete their daily tasks with confidence and ease.

Stage 4: Severe

During the fourth stage of Parkinson’s disease, many people begin to lack independence, meaning they begin to lack the ability to live alone. Some people at stage four may also be unable to walk or stand without assistance and may need assistive equipment such as a walker or cane.

At the fourth stage, it can be crucial for individuals to receive in-home support from a reliable, independent worker. Without regular support, it can become extremely dangerous for those affected to live alone, according to Healthline. If your loved one is in need of personal care from a support worker, the Mable platform can make your search for the right independent support workers easy and efficient with advanced filters. The Mable platform also has four unique types of support workers:

  • social support and domestic assistance,
  • personal care,
  • nursing services,
  • and Allied Health services.

Stage 5: Advanced

The fifth stage of Parkinson’s disease is the most advanced stage and is typically characterised by advanced stiffness in legs, confusion, hallucinations and delusions. People within stage five have an increased tendency to fall and may be unable to rise from sitting to standing.

Many people within generally benefit from consistent, daily care from independent support workers and registered or enrolled nurses who have experience in Parkinson’s disease, palliative care, wound care and aged care.

Ready to begin finding the support that can help your loved one feel independent and in control of their life? With Mable, you can filter for independent support workers who meet your loved one’s needs and preferences. Head to Mable to get started today.

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