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Parkinson’s Care Tips from francy Dickinson

George's 83rd Birthday 2014

George’s 83rd Birthday 2014

Dear Francy; My father-in-law took six years to get a diagnosis for Parkinson’s in the 1950’s…no one knew the signs. Let’s help each other learn the signs and prepare for a long life of health — with Parkinson’s. Not a sad ending to life by ignoring the important steps to take early on in your diagnosis.We can and do have control over how the condition works for us. Unlike his dad, my husband is able to continue a full life…filled with love and family. But we work hard to make his life have quality. from francy

TIPS TO KEEP YOU STRONGER LONGER:

  1. Work with the best. You have insurance and so use it…do not use your family doctor for Parkinson’s. The brain/body problems need an expert that treats loads of Parkinson’s patients. So, go to a Memory Clinic…or neurologist, if you feel your body is not responding well, you have a tremor, hard time walking well, you are losing your balance, 2 or more falls in 30 days, or your memory is worrying you.  They will get you into medications on the front of science and into a program to keep you stronger…longer.
  2. Blonde way to think of Parkinson’s…the brain and the muscles start to have problems interacting. The communication gets erratic or slow and then worsens. If you understand the process of Parkinson’s then the treatment and care become clear. Here is a great site to understand the Truth: Parkinson’s Explained. Better to know and understand what is happening to you or your loved one…instead of being surprised or worried.
  3. Keep Safe with Exercise! From the get go…you have to move. Everyday…you have to re-introduce your brain to your muscles. Like the movie “50 First Dates”. You can not let a day go by that you do not have your brain search and find every one of your muscles. You need to go and enroll in a senior exercise class as soon as possible. It will make a huge difference and tell the leader of the class of your condition so they know how to help you. On top of that…You need five movement exercises you can do each day from now on…all the way to the end of your life. Visit a Physical Therapy person and get a simple routine…you will do this routine forever..on a daily basis. Parkinson’s will change your movement, it will pull your body into a bent over and forward position that causes falls. Medications and your exercises can help you with those changes…so make sure you keep close to the doctor check-ins. But you need to just commit to a routine, that is very simple…every single day. If you have time to go and exercise more GREAT..but if not. These exercises need to be done at home, on your own. Do not think I am joking…you need to do this routine to keep walking, talking and living a full life and staying safe. Be active…I am doing a series of videos and will post…so you can see the easy exercises that help your brain keep a relationship with your muscles.
  4. Nutrition is showing as a very important part of changing the brain to the better to fight the side effects of Parkinson’s. Like any other idea…you need to read up on it. What you will find is that some food helps the medications and some work against it. You will also notice that adding supplements is a key to helping your body process the food. B-12 pills that melt in your mouth in the afternoon…and small snacks can really make an impact on how your body works. Click here for special Parkinson’s Food information:
  5. Talk…one of the side effects of Parkinson’s is being quieter. So as a family member…be sure to interact with your senior and get them to talk. To use that part of their brain…to keep them interested and into the world around them. Having them go out and about and see and do new things…that opens up new brain pathways and this is what we want to elongate the quality of life for anyone with Parkinson’s or any other brain disorder. Singing, dancing, being silly…talking about family history and doing easy chores – all keep the brain in motion.
  6. Forgetful? Yes, another side effect of Parkinson’s is losing brain function in the memory area. So, it means that its important to understand it’s not a worry…its just a natural progress of the condition…nothing to worry over. Just keep moving…keep talking, keep interaction going and do not hide. Hiding in bed, staying in your house…feeling safe in your bedroom or living room…will not change or help…the senior needs to keep their brain moving and interacting. If you see signs of memory loss…or safety issues worrying the senior take them into the neurologist and they will add medications that can help to change the brain functioning. You also need to rest…sleeping and hitting a deep sleep will help your brain to rebuild at night. Sleeping in small spurts does not allow the brain that healing time…talk to the doctor if you have issues with sleeping so it can be addressed.
    Do not give up…medications take a special geeky mind to mix into a cocktail that each senior formulates depending on their side effects. That is why you need to commit to your health care team at the Memory Clinic. So, instead of worry…write it down. Be prepared to report changes you feel in yourself or others notice about you…and share it with your doctor. You will find the doctor is thrilled to be working with someone that is active in their own care.
    NOTE: If you are forgetting, take note that phone apps and services to remind you to take your medications are available…use them! Taking your pills each day is how your brain works…not taking the pills…shocks the brain and it does not work…be smart on this!
  7. Get the worst over with right away. As early as you get the diagnosis, get the end of life issues handled so you can let them be and live on. Talking about all the bad stuff…getting it out and being sad over it…is a natural way of life…doing it right away…is a wise investment in your mental health. It will be years before your life is over….but don’t wait the journey is hard and long–one day you wake up and know that you are too unwell to make sound decisions. Deal with your Living Will situation and get a family/friend/spouse appointed and informed as a part of your medical team…so they can understand what your ideas of treatment are and will follow them as you move forward on your journey. Get it all out…talk about end of life issues and what you want and need for that to happen. Make changes to your finances, or place of living — soon. That way as you fade in abilities…those decisions you have made are signed, sealed and working. Change has been made not in the future and worrying you as your symptoms get harder to manage.
    –> I have often said that I have no idea how a senior, alone can get through the tasks of health care in today’s world. You need a buddy…find a kind and caring person that will not take advantage of you in your down times…and get them working on your behalf. Do not, try to do this on your own…involve someone to be your health team member and they will walk with you step by step and make the journey easier. 
    Download your own state’s Living Will Here
  8. Joy…there is nothing like laughing…nothing like being happy about silly, simple things. Spend time with your younger family members…laugh at puppy and kitten videos, watch old TV that used to make you laugh. Keep your mind in JOY…there will be plenty of time for sadness and worry…so “work” on keeping your own mind or your senior’s mind – in a place of calm…and joy. Sunshine, fresh air– its time to be calmed…learning to meditate (or deep prayer) can also help keep the senior calm when their body is changing and their mind is working slower.
    Ask the senior if they would like faith support. No matter what the care giver believes or the senior believes…if its time to call a faith person like a Rabbi or Minister to come and visit the senior…then make that call. I did, I contacted an old Minister that we had attended his church years before…he was kind enough to come by and talk with George. He puts us on his calendar and comes by with hugs and love every couple of months. George really appreciates the time to chat with a friend and make a spiritual connection. Give the senior the ability to have those experiences no matter what their personal choice of faith is…or even if they have no faith. I also try to leave George alone for a while when the minister is visiting, in case he wants to share something private with our friend…life needs talking out…so does end of life transition.
    Here is a great site if you have no faith connection, just friendly voices to chat with about your worries, no money is exchanged.  
  9. Join a support group in your area or on the Internet. Talk to others and get your mind around your condition and its gradual progression…and work to keep on top of it. I have kept my Georgie, who has both Alzheimer’s/Parkinson’s going for many, many years now. I keep him involved with family, friends and the world around him. Even on his exhausted days, that he does very little, he eats well, he moves and does his exercises, he drinks his smoothies and takes his supplements. I make sure each week has something to give my senior so they can concentrate on life…not let days fade into months and emptiness.
  10. Keeping living forward. Read about new ideas on Parkinson’s. Get some of the newsletters to keep you involved with the latest ideas from caregivers and professionals that will enhance the life for your self or your senior. There is no …its too late! There is only try this…then try that. There are cocktail mixes of medications that can make positive changes. There are ideas that each family comes up with to help the senior cope and stay involved sharing and talking make this journey easier for everyone. The trip down the path of Parkinson’s is not short…its long and you can make it richer if you keep thinking forward.

I hope these ideas give you a place to begin and grow. Get on the net and read…talk to others that are dealing with the same situations and just feel it in your heart that your life is worth the extra care you need to give to yourself now. Remember…no matter what they write…YOU are special and your body and mind are different than anyone else’s…so your twists and turns down the journey of Parkinson’s is yours alone. I hope you will chose the path of calm and quality of life. There is so much to live for and your life with…all of us that know you – is too rich to throw away. So, keep working, keep moving, keep eating, keep thinking, keep loving…for your family/friends…but also for yourself.

Please sign up for my blog…click the JOIN button and you will receive my blogs when I have time to do them. My care for my own Georgie is getting long and more intense so I do not blog all the time…but I am still answering your questions and appreciating your input for my own care giving…Yes I am working on my Care Giving Book…I am trying hard to get it all done this summer…thank you for all the requests…Blessings, francy

Coming Fall 2014

Coming Fall 2014

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