More than 100,000 Canadians live with Parkinson's disease and 25 are diagnosed daily. Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurogenerative disorder that is most recognized by its movement-related (“motor”) symptoms. While the cause remains largely unknown, with no cure, there are many treatment options to assist in easing the symptoms of the disease.
As Parkinson’s disease progresses, motor symptoms such as tremors, dyskinesia, and freezing can make it difficult to complete everyday tasks. There are many assistive devices that can make routine activities easier and safer for those living with PD.
In honour of Parkinson’s Awareness Month this April we're sharing our Guide to Assistive Devices for those living with Parkinson’s disease.
Freezing of gait is a PD symptom that can cause people to get “stuck” in place. It's defined as a brief, episodic absence or marked reduction of forward progression of the feet despite the intention to walk. For many people, a cane or a wheeled walker may improve the ability to get around.
Straight canes with a rubber tip are the most recommended for those with PD in comparison to tripod or quad canes. Laser canes can enable Parkinson’s patients to break “freezing” episodes and increase stride length by projecting a bright line as a guide to where to step next.
Walkers with four or more wheels can be helpful for better stability. They may even come with a built-in seats and baskets for extra support.
As PD advances, a wheelchair or scooter may be the most helpful option. When deciding which option is best for you, it's important to consult with your doctor or medical professional.
Eating Utensils and Cooking Tools
For those who experience tremors or shakiness, many companies have created tools to ease the stress of eating or cooking. Some options include:
- Rocker knives have rounded blades to make cutting safer and easier.
- Travel cups with lids and/or straws can be helpful in preventing spills.
- Adaptive utensils can have larger, weighted handles that can keep the utensil steady.
Bathroom aids can be very impactful in making the bathroom safer and more accessible. The most common forms of bathroom aids are grab bars/handrails, shower chairs, and non-slip bathmats, all of which can be helpful in preventing falls.
Tools such as electric toothbrushes, electric razors, hands-free dryers, and smart-touch faucets can be used to assist in hygiene care can for those who struggle with their grip and tremors.
In addition to keeping a clutter-free bedroom, bedroom aids can be helpful to prevent falls.
- Frames/Bed Cradles can be extremely helpful in allowing your feet to move freely, to prevent foot drop when you sleep.
- Bed rails are a sturdy support system for getting in and out of bed with ease.
- Floor-to-ceiling grab bars can also be extremely supportive when standing from a seated position.
PD can make getting dressed challenging, especially if buttons, zippers, or laces are involved.
- Weighted button aids are used to make pulling a button through its hole much more accessible. Shirts with magnetic buttons can be a great alternative to traditional button down.
- Zipper pulls can attach to the ring of a zipper to give a better grip, making it easier to zip up or down.
- Velcro or elastic shoelaces can be a stress-free alternative to typical shoes with laces.
Daily tasks can become more difficult and may take a bit longer to get through when living with Parkinson’s disease. If you're living with PD, make sure you are scheduling routine appointments with your doctor(s) and other medical professionals to stay on top of your diagnosis.
Navigating through advancing symptoms of PD can be difficult, but you don’t have to do it alone.
Senior Helpers’ Parkinson’s Care Program is a specialized training program for our caregivers. This program is designed to provide our caregivers with the expert training and education necessary to create personalized care plans for individuals living with Parkinson’s disease.
Contact us today to learn more about how our Caregivers can provide a unique and genuine connection to your loved ones. Find your local Senior Helpers today.