April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month

Did you know that April is Parkinson's Awareness Month? It is an initiative created by the Parkinson's Disease Foundation that generates attention for the disease in the hopes of bringing it to an end. If you are caring for someone living with Parkinson's, you're far from alone. The disease comes right after Alzheimer's in being the most common neurodegenerative disorder, according to Statistics Canada.

Based on a recent Statistics Canada survey, about 55,000 Canadians aged 18 or older were reported to be living with Parkinson's disease. Among this population, about 75 per cent were aged 65 or older, with 12,500 of those individuals reported as living in retirement or long term care homes where they could receive the support they require. If your loved one has recently developed Parkinson's disease, it's common to feel overwhelmed; however, there are steps you can follow to provide the best care possible. Consider these tips for caring for someone living with Parkinson's disease.

"Attend all medical appointments with your loved one."

1. Active involvement - Parkinson Society Ottawa suggests attending all medical appointments with your loved one and to be involved in their medical decisions, should your parent or loved one welcome your help.  The more you know about your loved one's condition, the more knowledge you have to help them take care of themselves.

2. Ask plenty of questions - During doctors' appointments, ask as many questions as you can in order to get a full understanding of the disease and what to expect in your loved one's health. But remember: it's important that your loved one's questions are answered first and foremost, so be respectful that it's their appointment.

Bradykinesia may occur, which causes delayed communication from the brain cells to muscles. Attending doctors appointments with your loved one can help you get a better understanding of what they're experiencing. 

3. Always stay positive – Parkinson's Canada says that everyone experiences Parkinson's differently, so it's very important for both you and your loved one to take each day one step at a time. Live life day-by-day and enjoy moments together instead of getting stressed over the challenges that the disease may pose on a daily basis.

4. Look for further support - If you think it's time for your aging parent to receive more support, and you both believe retirement living is a good option, consider researching and visiting retirement homes in your area. It also helps to consult with your loved one's family physician for suggestions, or contact local Parkinson's disease support or advocacy groups for more education and assistance.