What is Parkinson’s disease?
- Disease of the nervous system, in which certain areas of the brain and its cells (neurons) slowly degenerate.
- This disease affects approximately 1% of the population over the age of 65, affecting both sexes equally.
- The first symptoms of Parkinson’ disease begin to show at the age of around 50-60.
- The disease is progressive, and manifests differently in different people.
- Stiffness: Stiffness in the limbs, upper and lower body, trunk and neck as well.
- Tremors: Usually starts by affecting movement of the hand/s.
- It is slow and of variable amplitude.
- It also affects movement in relation to other parts of the body, including the feet, jaw, lips and tongue.
- Bradykinesis (Slowness): Slowness, in term of movements, is a cardinal symptom of Parkinson’s disease.
- Disturbance of posture and equilibrium: Most people, affected by this disease, develop a disturbance in terms of posture, in the form of a forward stoop.
- People affected by this disease are unable to maintain balance and tend to fall frequently.
- Sense of weakness
- Change in the quality of voice: It so happens that people affected by this disease find that their voice tends to change.
- People suffering from this disease also, at times, tend to repeat the same word over and over again.
- Change in handwriting: It is a common symptom of those suffering from Parkinson’s disease, especially if it starts in the right hand.
- The handwriting also tends to become small and the speed of writing goes down.
- Issues related to walking: Most people affected by this disease tend to drag their feet while walking.
- While trying to walk, most of the said people tend to fall, due to lack of coordination.
How can you help someone in your family who suffers from Parkinson’s disease?
- Allow the patient to be independent.
- Let the patient bathe, dress up and do all other activities independently (make sure the patient doesn’t injure himself/herself in the process of doing these activities).
- Make sure that the patient is persuaded to exercise on a daily basis.
- No special diet required for those suffering from this disease.
- However, having said that, it is advisable for such people to take a balanced diet, consisting of a lot of fresh fruits, vegetables and plenty of water.
- Due to issues of inactivity, constipation is a common problem faced by those suffering from this disease so ensure healthy eating and laxatives if necessary.
- Exercise is a must for those suffering from this disease. If exercise isn’t a daily feature, the joints tend to become stiff, painful and frozen.Exercise also helps improve the functioning of the heart, lungs and kidneys, apart from giving an overall feeling of well-being. People suffering from this disease are advised not to undertake vigorous exercise, and hence, walking regularly is advised.