Parkinson’s Disease is not catching or hereditary. No one knows what causes it, but some of the dopamine cells in the brain die at an accelerated rate.
It is a slowly progressing disease. PD patients have good days and bad days. Sometimes only moments of horror off and on throughout the day. Sometimes they cry and appear to be upset and you think you have done something wrong to hurt their feelings. It’s the Parkinson’s, so keep talking to them; they’ll be OK in just a few minutes.
Not all PD patients shake; if they do, ignore it. You might think not to entertain them because they are not grinning or smiling. They hear you and have theme intelligence. Facial expressions are difficult. Swallowing is difficult; they may drool and feel embarrassed.
Sometimes they cannot move, and you need to be patient; after a short time, they will get up. Remind them if they stoop or slump. Remind them, they need to know. Let them be part of the conversation. They just need a little more time to put their thoughts together.
If they need to rest or sleep, let them; they need it. The strain to keep going through the day is difficult and exhausting. Sometimes sleep is the only peace they have.
Go somewhere with them. See different scenery, whether it’s a day trip or vacation. Let them know you love them. Give them lots of hugs; touching is very important.
Be patient; they need you. And they need family and friends to get through this difficult disease and want to continue to be part of your lives.
Candace B. Cordella
Georgia Assistant State Director, Parkinson’s Action Network, Mount Airy