Parkinsons disease is a neurological condition that affects movement and causes disability. Typically it is seen in those aged 50 and older, with severity increasing as the patient ages. While the disease is more common in men than women, overall it it one of the most commonly diagnosed neurodegenerative diseases within the United States.
Parkinsons disease is caused by a decreased level of dopamine. This deficiency results in the degeneration of neuronal cells in the basal ganglia and substantia regions in the brain. This in turn affects movement because the pathways projecting from the substantia nigra, and the corpus striatum, contain important neurotransmitters that are responsible for complex body movement. The depletion of dopamine in these key areas of the brain leads to an increase in excitatory neurotransmitters, as opposed to inhibitory neurotransmitters, which affects the bodies ability to voluntarily control movement.
Parkinsons Care Plans
When it comes to creating an effective parkinsons long term care plan, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure the safety and care of the patient, while still aiding in disease management.
- Assess Swallowing. Because voluntary motion is inhibited, and muscles are weakened, always assess swallowing before administering anything orally. This is done to ensure there is no risk of aspiration. Speech therapy may be appropriate to assist with this step.
- Encourage Movement. Encourage the patient to engage with assisted movement multiple times throughout the day. This can help maintain muscle strength and prevent muscles from experiencing atrophy. These exercises can also help a patient maintain a bit of their independence, if they are able to move sufficiently.
- Teach Energy Conservation. Parkinsons can cause patients to experience fatigue, even after simple tasks. It is important to teach patients to conserve energy to prevent overexertion and added weakness. Consistent periods of rest can help them recoup their strength, and feel more at easy overall.
- Sit To Stand Positions. When aiding a patient with standing up ensure that you use a rocking motion to build momentum. This can give patients a needed boost that makes standing much easier, especially if they are experiencing significant weakness.
- Nutrition Plan. Parkinsons care plans should always include a well thought out meal plan. Advise patients to eat smaller portions more frequently, as opposed to spaced out large meals. In later stages of disease weakness can inhibit the ability to eat and prepare food. Smaller portions that are nutrient rich, can make the process easier on patients. Increase fluid intake, but avoid foods that are high in vitamin b6, as it can interfere with medications.
- Medication. Medications designed to increase dopamine levels should be administered as prescribed. Dopamine agonists, Dopaminergics, Anticholinergics, and Levodopa-Carbidopa are frequently selected by doctors for this purpose.
- Independence. Parkinsons care plans should be tailored to encourage independence for as long as safely possible. Try and give patients a chance to participate in their personal care for as long as they are able, and ensure that they remain active to the best of their ability.
- Support Groups. Parkinsons can be an emotional experience for patients, and nursing care plans for parkinsons disease should always take into account these needs. Allowing them to speak with others, and gain support from others going through the same thing can help them feel better overall. Emotional health is just as important as physical health.
Parkinsons care plans should always put the patients safety and care in the forefront whether they are in home care, or a long term facility. Plans should also be tailored to meet the needs of patients, as not every case will be the same. Encourage independence, and movement, in addition to teaching healthy energy conservation techniques when fatigue sets in. While there is no cure, management is possible.