Statistics show there are over (1) Million Americans who have Parkinson’s Disease and more than 50,000 new cases diagnosed each year. The disease strikes men more often than women with the average age when individuals are diagnosed is 60 years of age. Parkinson’s is progressive and overtime individuals lose their functional abilities. This leads to dependence on others for basic activities of daily living (ADL’s). Though there is no cure for this chronic disease there are many treatments that allow individuals to lead fulfilling lives for a long period of time.
Parkinson’s disease affects the way an individual moves. It occurs when there is a problem with certain nerve cells in the brain. Normally these cells make a chemical called dopamine which sends signals to the part of the brain that controls movement. Without this chemical movements become slow, rigid, tremors, stiffness, and a freezing of movements. Problems with balance occurs which in turn increase a person’s risk of falls. Parkinson’s disease also affects memory amd the ability to make safe decisions. It is known that keeping individuals with Parkinson’s disease active allows them to be less dependent on others. They can continue to perform regular daily activities such as dressing, bathing, meal prep, etc. independently for a longer period of time. This in turn reduces the stress on the family caregivers.
Family Caregivers Network has a Parkinson’s disease program that focuses on our C.A.R.E.S. platform…Community Advocacy, Resource, Education, and Support. We believe that these four areas are essential to expand the quality of care for patients and families. Family caregiving is more than just providing direct care. Caregiving needs Advocacy so families have a voice, Resource so all the necessary information is available to patients and families, Education to improve the knowledge of one’s disease, and Support to be there and help patients and families cope with the stress of caregiving. Additionally specifically defined exercises and activities allows patients to live safely at home and remain active in their communities.
Using a Patient Centered Care approach allows patients and families to be involved in the planning process for their care. The care team reviews the goals that are set by the patient, family and clinicians and develops an individualized plan of care which includes balance and strengthening exercises along with memory activities. It is important that the patient with Parkinson’s disease remains compliant with their care plan. To ensure compliance a Nurse Care Manager monitors the care plan, and modifies the plan as needed.
Education is provided to the family caregivers to have a better understanding of not only the disease but also how to provide direct care for their loved one. Respite is a necessary component to the program help families cope with the physical and emotional stress of this long term chronic illness. Support is provided to both the patient and family with counseling and group therapy.
The Parkinson’s disease program does the following:
- improves strength, balance, and prevents injuries secondary to falls.
- keeps patients engaged in family activities and community.
- increases Parkinson’s disease knowledge for patients and families.
- allows families to cope in a positive manner with the use of support groups.
- improves Quality of Life for both patient and family.
- helps reduce hospitalizations due to complications of the disease.
- end of life issues are addressed sooner with coordination of Hospice care.
Resources include the National Parkinson’s Foundation or Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, and Family Caregivers Network, Inc.
To find out more about our complete Parkinson’s disease program contact Gerry Fioriglio RN, BS, Geriatric Care Manager and Program Administrator at Family Caregivers Network, 215-541-9030, or via our website www.family-caregivers.com.