Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative disease that affects many Canadians over the age of 60. In fact, according to the most recent figures, as many as 100,000 Canadians are currently living with Parkinson’s.
Symptoms can range from extreme stiffness of the muscles and joints to shaking, making it difficult for clients to maintain their balance and complete daily activities. Clients may even begin to have difficulties speaking or swallowing, and may start to experience depression. These symptoms often become worse with time, which can be challenging for both the client and their family.
Thankfully, there are several ways that personal support workers (PSWs) can help their clients feel comfortable, healthy, and happy while receiving care. Read on to learn more!
PSWs Should Be Mindful of Any Changes in Their Client’s Mood or Symptoms
Parkinson’s comes with a plethora of symptoms, both before and after the diagnosis, and it is important for trained PSWs to keep close watch for any changes. The symptoms of Parkinson’s will usually progress in stages, from 1-5, and significantly affect a client’s ability to move normally. In fact, many clients may become wheelchair bound in the fifth stage of the disease. Clients will usually take medication to help stave off the effects of the disease. However, if a client’s symptoms—such as a signs of mental decline or an inability to swallow—begin to worsen it’s important for PSWs to inform their supervisors as the client may need to change their medication.
Graduates of PSW college should also be wary of any changes in their client’s overall mood, as they may become more irritable and anxious, and may be prone to outbursts. Moreover, about 40 per cent of Parkinson’s patients may end up developing depression at some point, and could require additional medication or counselling in order to cope. PSWs will need to be patient with their clients who have Parkinson’s and show empathy, as a calm and compassionate attitude can ensure that the care they receive is positive and professional.
Grads of PSW Courses Should Ensure Their Clients Get the Exercise They Need
Exercise can be very beneficial for seniors with Parkinson’s, as it can help with pain relief and might assist some clients with improving their balance. Parkinson’s clients may often need the expertise of a physiotherapist to develop some routines that graduates of PSW courses can later assist with.
Some excellent exercises for Parkinson’s clients could be simple things like walking or swinging their arms. They could even play non-strenuous sports like mini-golf or ping pong to work their arms, hips, and wrists. More complex exercises could include Thai Chi and Yoga, both of which can be modified for clients to perform while seated.
PSWs can also help clients with stretching exercises which can improve their posture, as well as strengthen their bones and muscles. Stretching exercises have even been shown to help those with Parkinson’s quicken their speed when walking. PSWs should be cautious when assisting clients with their exercises, making sure that they don’t injure or overextend themselves. PSWs should also be ready to support clients who have difficulty moving certain parts of their body, and safeguard them from falls.
PSWs Should Make Sure Their Clients Get Plenty of Rest
Another important factor that can contribute to the overall wellbeing of clients with Parkinson’s is sleep. Unfortunately, many people with Parkinson’s may end up developing sleep problems, like insomnia or sleep apnea, and some seniors may need up to 30 minutes to fall asleep. A lack of sleep has also been shown to make the symptoms of Parkinson’s worse.
In some cases, clients with Parkinson’s may be prescribed medication from their doctors. PSWs can also help their clients by doing simple things like observing bedtime routines. PSWs may also want to limit sources of noise that could disturb the sleep of their clients. Small gestures like closing windows and reducing the amount of light in the room can help clients sleep better and enjoy a greater quality of life.
Are you ready to start a rewarding healthcare career where you can help clients in your community?
Contact the National Academy of Health and Business and become a PSW.