The symptoms and severity of Parkinson's disease vary from person to person and often from day to day. As the disease becomes more disabling over time and a loved one requires more care, nursing home care may be a consideration. Therefore, as the symptoms of advanced Parkinson's disease have more of a negative impact on your family member's daily life, it's important to know what a nursing home (such as National Church Residences) can offer.
Medication management is a crucial aspect of care that nursing homes provide to their residents. Because the symptoms of Parkinson's disease can fluctuate, it's important for nursing home workers to monitor the progress of your family member's condition and the potential side effects that the medications prescribed to treat the disease can cause. Consequently, your loved one may require periodic adjustments to his or her medication regimen.
Although medication is the most common treatment for Parkinson's disease, doctors often prescribe different medications at different stages of the disease. The proper combination of medications and adequate monitoring of their use decreases the risk of adverse side effects, including dyskinesia (involuntary jerky movements), hallucinations and delusions, depression, and confusion.
Taking medication on time also is essential for controlling symptoms but may be a problem if your family member is experiencing memory problems – a symptom that commonly occurs in people with Parkinson's disease. Unfortunately, not taking medication as directed can have serious effects, such as affecting your loved one's ability to swallow, get out of bed or a chair unassisted, or walk because of slowed movements.
The combination of medications that manage a person's symptoms best varies among individuals – another factor to consider with medication management. Even though medications can help improve some symptoms of the disease, they often cause side effects or stop working after a time. These issues and the changes in the body related to aging require the careful administration of medications and watching for new or unusual symptoms.
Dementia is a common symptom late in Parkinson's disease. Reports estimate that between 50 and 80 percent of individuals diagnosed with Parkinson's eventually develop dementia as the disease progresses. Changes in the brain may lead to cognitive problems, including memory loss, inattention, and confusion – all of which can interfere with the person's daily functioning. Additional symptoms of Parkinson's dementia often include anxiety, irritability, mood changes, visual hallucinations, paranoid delusions, and impaired reasoning.
While your family member with Parkinson's disease may experience some memory problems and rely on the help of others during the early onset of dementia, as the person ages and the disease progresses, he or she may become more dependent on the help of others to eat and drink, bathe, dress, and go to the toilet.
When your loved one is no longer able to remain safe living at home, nursing home services provide 24/7 care. For individuals with dementia who become more agitated just before darkness falls, nursing home facilities often plan pet therapy or other evening activities, such as listening to music, watching a humorous television program, or listening to someone read out loud, that have a calming effect. A nursing home also takes precautions to ensure the safety of residents who tend to wander.