April 11 is World Parkinson’s Day – a day to raise awareness of the condition for the more than 80,000 Australians living with Parkinson’s.
Many people associate Parkinson’s with trembling hands, but it is not only a movement disorder. While symptoms include muscle rigidity, tremor, postural instability and slowness of movement, there are a number of non-movement symptoms such as pain, sensory changes, changes in the gastrointestinal system, depression and problems with memory, thinking and sleep that can impact the life of the person with Parkinson’s and their carer.
The average age of Parkinson’s diagnosis is 65 years. While Parkinson’s is often seen as an older person’s disease, younger people can be diagnosed with Parkinson’s as well, with some receiving a diagnosis before the age of 40. In fact, 20 percent of people living with Parkinson’s are of working age.
For those living at home with Parkinson’s there are some modifications that can be made to your home that can help to make living safer and more comfortable – particularly for those experiencing symptoms around balance and movement.
Get rid of obstacles
Start by getting rid of potential obstacles on the floor, such as rugs or clutter. Create a clear path through the home by leaving plenty of space between furniture.
Make the bathroom safer
Making the bathroom safer can help someone living with Parkinson’s maintain their independence when it comes to personal care. Get rid of any bath mats that can be a slip hazard and add a non-slip mat to the shower or bathtub. Look to install grab bars near the toilet and shower/bath and an elevated toilet seat can also help.
Improve your lighting
Adding more lights to the home can help with navigating the home at night – they can also improve mood for some Parkinson’s sufferers. Touch or sensor lights are good options.
Invest in adjustable recliners and upright chairs
Buying chairs that are easier to get out of is a good investment. Look for chairs with straight backs, firm seats and armrests. An adjustable recliner is a good choice for the living room.
Lifestyle changes to improve mobility
Exercise may help improve coordination and balance issues and can also help with mood, fatigue and other non-Parkinson’s symptoms. Surrounding yourself with a good team of specialists and allied health professionals can also help you get the right treatment plan and help you live better with Parkinson’s.