Coping with Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s Disease is a complex, debilitating neurological disorder that strikes about one percent of the population. More likely to occur in adults over 60 and in men more than women, Parkinson’s attacks the central nervous system and damages the brain’s ability to produce dopamine, the chemical responsible for transmitting signals between neurons that enable coordination.

Symptoms vary from individual to individual and can include slowed movement, rigidity, hand tremors, loss of balance, difficulty walking and limited facial expressions. Parkinson’s may be accompanied by Lewy Body Syndrome, which causes dementia and hallucinations.

There is no known cure for this challenging disease, but there is a great deal of help available. We strongly advise and encourage those with Parkinson’s or a related disorder to be seen regularly by a neurologist, as the disease requires careful monitoring by a knowledgeable specialist and a complex balance of medications.

For families with a loved one wrestling with Parkinson’s, we have found the following links to be particularly helpful. These websites are full of useful information, ranging from how to manage medication, particularly if your loved one is hospitalized (which may happen frequently), to how to cope with daily stress of living with Parkinson’s. We encourage you to explore each site for up-to-date information on treatment modalities, research and support.

NATIONAL FOUNDATIONS

National Parkinson’s Foundation (NPF)
A good overview of the disease, diagnosis and treatment. Resources for support groups in your area.

Aware in Care
Guidance from NPF for how to prepare for the next hospitalization; how to be proactive with medication management in the ER or hospital.

American Parkinson’s Disease Association (APDF)
Promotes better quality of life for the Parkinson’s community through a growing network of information and referral centers by state. Centers help patients and caregivers via education, referral, support and public awareness events.

Parkinson’s Disease Foundation (PDF)
Supports disease research, education and public advocacy. Site includes tips on finding financial assistance, resources for legal issues and employment concerns.

Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJF)
A user-friendly site with a wide range of content, from the latest  treatment options to tips for sexual health. Created by popular actor Michael J. Fox, who was diagnosed with young-onset Parkinson’s at the height of his acting career, the foundation is dedicated to raising funds for a cure.

OTHER USEFUL LINKS

Lee Silverman Voice Training
Provides training and certification for occupational and physical therapists to help people with Parkinson’s improve their speech and movement. Products and online courses available.

Dance for Parkinson’s
Originated in Brooklyn, N.Y., Dance for PD® classes are offered in more than 100 communities and 8 countries worldwide. Check site for resources in your area.

A registered and licensed occupational therapist and geriatric care manager associate with Deborah Fins Associates since 2000, Susan Ritz works directly with elders and their families and provides administrative support to our practice. Her professional training in occupational therapy informs her detailed functional assessments and home safety evaluations, and she has extensive experience working with clients who have Parkinson’s Disease and other neurological disorders.

Drawing on more than 30 years of professional experience in geriatric care management, DFA offers comprehensive assessments and planning, guidance in selecting appropriate care, help identifying resources for financial support and professional consulting. Please contact us to set up a complimentary initial telephone consultation.

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