Monday, January 21, 2008

Parkinson's Disease:Failure to Initiate

I attended the monthly Parkinson's support group last Saturday (January 19, 2008). A neurologist spoke, so there was very good attendance. There were several new faces. I met with the caregiver's while the Parkinsonians exercised.

Parkinsonians tend to turn into the world's most accomplished couch potatoes. This fact was worried about by several different caregivers. Some said "I can't get my PDer to exercise." Others said, "He doesn't want to do anything, go anywhere." There was general consternation at this phenomenon.

What the caregivers did not realize was that lack of initiative is very much part of Parkinson's Disease. One of the symptoms of the disease is a failure to initiate. Parkinsonians have a difficulty beginning any task. The result is too often they just sit. Caregivers must help them get started, encourage them to move, and insist they engage in social activities. That is not easy.

I found that having a routine that included activities every day was very important during the sixteen years that I was my mother's caregiver. I was the first up every morning. I woke her at the same time each morning and dispensed her first medicine of the day: her levodopa/carbidopa and other Parkinson's meds. I made sure she was up and on her way to the bathroom before I went to prepare breakfast.

Midmorning, I checked my e-mail while she exercised in the same room. I could prompt her if she needed encouragement. Sometimes, I had to insist she leave the television and join me, so that she could exercise. She always came when I insisted. Early in her battle with Parkinson's she had become a conscientious exerciser with no prompting needed. She changed as the disease progressed.

Every Sunday we went to Sunday School and ate out. This was an important time for her. In a safe setting, she could socialize with people she had known for years. Eating out changed the monotony of my cooking. I purchased an adult bib at a local medical supply house which made eating out much more enjoyable because she did not have to worry about dropping food on her good clothes.

Everyone is different, but I encourage you to have a schedule, both daily and weekly. Stick to it as much as possible. Always remember to help your Parkinsonian begin any activity. Above all, join a support group.

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