How to Build Mobility Confidence with Parkinson's Disease
Parkinson’s disease is a neuromuscular degenerative disorder that robs those afflicted of their motor function over time. The disease is generally slow moving, but studies have shown that people with Parkinson's who were active before their diagnosis and continue to be so afterwards seem to have a much slower progression of the disorder. One of the things that seem to go hand in hand with physical activity, is the social component of staying connected with others.
Physically, Parkinson’s patients start out just as physically fit as anyone else. As the disease progresses, however, they will gradually lose their range of motion, particularly in the back and neck, in addition to tremors, freezing, slowness, changes in balance, and a decrease in muscle strength, all of which will make it difficult to maintain as active a lifestyle as they once led.
Up until fairly recently, it was thought that a sedentary lifestyle that minimized the chance of falls was the best option for Parkinson’s patients. But new research has proven that not to be the case. Two schools of exercise have developed that focus on keeping patients healthy and slowing the course of the disease. Organized exercise and physical activity both are valuable, but which is better for a person with Parkinson’s? And how can friends, caregivers, and family members help with increasing the confidence in the day-to-day mobility that a Parkinson’s patient may need?
Parkinson’s disease is known to rob an individual of their freedom of mobility over a period of time; it is a debilitating medical condition that progresses gradually. When this disease starts off, the individual appears to be as physically fit as anyone else, but over time, as Parkinson’s progresses, the individual will start to lose their range of motion, mostly in the region of the neck and back, leading to tremors, slowness in activity, lack of balance coordination, and a reduction in muscle strength. Below are a few tips an individual can follow to build up mobility confidence in patients with Parkinson’s disease:
- Carry out activities as a family: Generally, a Parkinson’s patient gets trapped in their own isolation and this can lead to emotional turmoil, so it is important for family members and close friends to come ahead and help them by, for example, taking walks with them. While going out on walks, choose a path that is free of any obstacles, or use one that the patient has used previously. If this does not work, try to schedule activities, which can include gardening or any other routines that can be carried out at home.
- Make it a fun activity to move around: Although it may sound counterintuitive, be sure the individual keeps moving around since it can help to slow down the progression of Parkinson’s disease. But if the individual is not comfortable walking, there are alternative activities that can be carried out, such as joining a group involved in dancing, aerobics, or even swimming activities.
- Be sure to go out daily: If the individual does not feel comfortable taking part in certain activities, family members should encourage them to leave the house on a daily basis. It can be for any reason, such as a simple walk to a nearby store or something similar. If someone is available, they can also accompany the individual to ensure they do not lose their balance and trip.
- Carry out planned activities: Group activities are always fun to take part in. Planning out group activities can be a fun way of involving the individual and building their mobility confidence. There are multiple ways to carry out such activities, which can involve walking or hiking, among other options. These activities can be done in a group with other individuals suffering from the same disorder. However, one should make sure to plan these activities on a regular basis.
- If required, use balance aids: It will not always be possible to be around a Parkinson’s patient, so one of the ways to avoid a spill is to seek the help of balance aids. These can include walkers or canes whenever they are required. They can be used whenever the individual is carrying out any physical activity or wishes to do something that exerts them. These balance aids are known to help increase confidence in individuals so they do not worry about tumbling.