Parkinson’s is a progressive neurodegenerative condition that affects 1 in 500 people. It’s caused by lowered dopamine production in the brain. Dopamine is the chemical responsible for coordinated physical movement.
Parkinson’s can strike at any age, but it is most common among older age groups. The average age at diagnosis is 59 years.
There is no cure for Parkinson’s, but the good news is many symptoms associated with the condition can be managed.
Common motor symptoms such as tremor, stiffness and slowness of movement can have a significant impact on day-to-day living. Here are a few ideas to help those who experience some of the motor symptoms associated with Parkinson’s.
Around 70 percent of people with Parkinson’s experience a tremor, or shaking, most commonly in the hand or arm. Tremors often occur when a person is at rest, making relaxation difficult and affecting simple pastimes like reading. A book seat is a great way to keep your book or tablet steady so you can enjoy reading again.
If mealtimes are affected by stiffness or tremor, try using a sloping dish with a deep side to help scoop food more easily and prevent spills. You can also use weighted cutlery for better balance and stability, or bendable cutlery that allows for better manoeuvrability. And take a look at the Parsons weighted cup. It has two handles and a weighted bottom for better control and reduced spills.
Many people with Parkinson’s have difficulty maintaining balance, so it’s important to assess the need for hand rails to make moving around your home easier and safer. Common areas requiring rails are stairs, long hallways and bathrooms. Read our article about Preventing slips and falls in your bathroom for some great safety tips.
Stiffness can make simple actions like turning in bed or getting in and out of chairs difficult. Leg raisers are a simple solution. They fit under most chair and bed legs and raise the height of your furniture to make it easier to rise. Use a bed lever that slides securely between the base and mattress of your bed leaving a sturdy curved handle for added stability and support when turning or getting out of bed.
As the condition progresses, many people with Parkinson’s find they need a walking stick or frame to support mobility. U-step manufacture mobility aids specifically designed for people with Parkinson’s. The U-step walker provides exceptional stability, and its unique braking system puts the user in full control, so the walker won’t start rolling until you’re ready to go. Contact a Life Unlimited (now known as Your Way | Kia Roha) Store to pre-arrange a trial of the U-step walker or the Laser Cane.
If you or someone you love has Parkinson’s, visit Parkinson’s New Zealand to find more information and resources. The friendly, knowledgeable staff at your local Life Unlimited (now known s Your Way | Kia Roha)Store can help too. They can advise you about the great range of products designed to support daily living with Parkinson’s, and they can also help you find information and support groups in your region.