As one ages, movement disorders become all too common an occurrence. They range in effects from tremors to tics to chronic and sudden muscle spasms. There are several different diseases that cause these uncontrollable movements and include Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, infections, Tourette’s syndrome, autoimmune diseases, restless leg syndrome, vascular disorders, injuries and certain medications.
A Family Caregiver’s Role
As a family caregiver, you often notice changes in your parent before anyone else; sometimes, even before your parent. If you’ve notice increasing unintentional movements, make an appointment with your parent’s primary health care provider. In many instances, treating the underlying disease can minimize these types of movements, some of which are highly treatable. If there is no specific treatment available, there may still be ways to decrease the symptoms and relieve any associated pain.
Always consult your parent’s primary health care provider before making changes in your parent’s lifestyle. These non-medical interventions and complementary therapies may help manage the symptoms associated with movement disorders.
- Physical activity. It may be tempting to limit movement when your body is no longer functioning as it use to, but remaining active is an important part of a healthy and happy life. While physical activity may not slow down the progression of the specific disease, it can diminish symptoms and increase one’s quality of life. If your parent is having issues with balance, consider water aerobics—an exercise environment that minimizes any fears or concerns of falling. Tai Chi is also shown to increase balance and is a good exercise for both body and mind. Walking, dance and yoga are also good activities for your parent to try. Many local senior community centers offer a wealth of exercise classes with seniors, including those that are mobility challenged, in mind.
- Relaxation Techniques. Depression and anxiety are commonly associated symptoms of movement disorders. The relaxation response has been shown to not only decrease anxiety but help relieve some of the movement disorders associated with the varying diseases. Some relaxation techniques to consider are deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, mindful meditation, and guided visualizations. There are hundreds of recordings that can be found on YouTube that encompass all of these practices. Other relaxation and helpful modalities include massage, physical therapy and acupuncture. According to Mercy Health Hauenstein Neurosciences, “Numerous studies show Parkinson’s/Movement Disorders patients tolerate acupuncture well. Most report subjective improvement in symptoms including tremor, walking, depression, handwriting, difficulty sleeping and anxiety.” Again, it’s always best to check with your parent’s physician before proceeding with supplemental treatments.
Elder Care Provider
It’s important to both you and your parent that you take some time during the week to recharge and refresh. While caring for a loved one with movement disorders can be extremely rewarding, it can also be very taxing. In order to give the very best care and be fully present for your parent, you will need to give to yourself as well. Consider obtaining the services of an elder care provider a few days a week. They have cared for countless seniors facing these types of diseases and understand the unique circumstances and the care that they require.
If you or an aging loved one are considering elder care in Old Bridge, NJ, please contact the caring staff at Care Street Home Care of New Brunswick today. Call (732) 607-8870.