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Maintaining Independence with Parkinson’s Disease

Maintaining Independence with Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a chronic brain condition that causes progressive brain damage and movement issues. As the disease evolves, it becomes increasingly difficult for those living with the disease to maintain their independence. While some are lucky enough to have caregivers and assistance when needed, many others do not have that luxury. For both groups, maintaining independence with Parkinson’s for as long as possible is key. Here are some tips to help achieve that goal.

Home Setup

Tailoring your home to your needs is vital for maintaining independence with Parkinson’s disease. Safety is key, as people living with Parkinson’s disease are at a higher risk for falls due to motor symptoms like stiff muscles, freezing, and imbalance.

  • Remove any rugs that are not secured to the floor.
  • Ensure walking paths are wide and have easy access.
  • Secure any cords by taping them down or tucking them behind/under furniture.
  • Remove any clutter that can be tripped over.
  • Place automatic nightlights throughout bedrooms, bathrooms, and hallways.
  • Install grab bars near toilets, tubs, and showers.
  • Add a sturdy bench/chair to tubs/showers.

Getting Dressed

People with Parkinson’s disease may have difficulty dressing due to a lack of hand coordination and stiffness in limbs. This makes it particularly challenging to put on or take off clothing such as underwear, socks, and pants.

Choose clothing items that work for you, such as:

  • Loose-fitting, stretchy clothes.
  • Pullover tops rather than ones with buttons.
  • Front-closing garments.
  • Pants with an elastic waistband.
  • Slip-on shoes.

Additionally, take your time getting dressed – hurrying can lead to stress, which can make Parkinson’s symptoms worse. Consider getting adaptive clothing tools like a button hook, zipper pull, and shoehorn.

Hair & Makeup

Applying makeup or doing hair can often be challenging for people with Parkinson’s, as fine motor skills are often needed. The following can help:

  • Sit down in front of an independently standing mirror while doing your hair or makeup. Rest your elbow on a flat surface for more stability.
  • Use pump-style bottles for liquid makeup rather than tubes.
  • Use thicker brushes as they’re easier to grip.
  • Hold a mascara shield over your eyelids when applying mascara to prevent smudging.
  • If using eyeliner, try short strokes rather than one continuous line.
  • If using a lipstick tube is challenging, apply it first to your finger, then use your finger to apply it to your lips.
  • Use a two-in-one hair dryer/brush tool so you don’t have to use both hands while doing your hair.
  • If holding a hair dryer for long periods is difficult, purchase a hair dryer stand to attach to your wall or vanity.

Reach Out

Though maintaining independence with Parkinson’s is important to many, don’t hesitate to ask friends and family for help with challenging tasks. It’s important to remember that even if you’re able to live independently, everyone needs help at times. By delegating some responsibilities, you can conserve energy for the things you enjoy, such as hobbies or socializing.

Additionally, living alone can cause loneliness – especially in those with Parkinson’s. Managing the disease and its physical and emotional impact can highlight the differences between your life and the lives of others, leading to feelings of isolation. Consider joining a Parkinson’s support group in your area. Support groups are a great way to connect with others with the same condition, share experiences, and get advice on diagnosis, treatment, and daily living.

Activities for People with Parkinson’s

Stay engaged with these 10 activities. 

Smart Snacks for Seniors

Smart Snacks for Seniors

Snacking – almost everyone does it. As people age, it’s common for their appetite to decrease, leading to more snacking and fewer full meals. But there’s a right (and wrong) way to snack. A well-balanced, healthy diet is essential to aging well. Because seniors have unique nutritional needs, they should pay close attention to what they grab when they’re hungry. So, let’s uncover some smart snacks for seniors!

Greek Yogurt

Yogurt is packed with probiotics, which are great for your digestive system. It is also a great source of calcium, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin B2, and vitamin B12, which can all help support and maintain bone density.

Not all yogurt is created equal, though. Many yogurt brands are extremely high in sugar and bad for diabetics. Instead, opt for plain Greek yogurt or look for labels that say, ‘zero sugar,’ ‘unsweetened,’ or ‘less sugar.’ If you like a pop of sweetness in your yogurt, add a drizzle of honey or some fruit!

Hard-Boiled Eggs

Hard-boiled eggs are an excellent source of protein for their size – one large egg contains about 6g of protein. Humans lose 30 to 50% of their muscle mass between ages 40 and 80, making protein crucial for senior diets.

Don’t eat too many, though – the yolk in hard-boiled eggs is high in cholesterol. If you plan to eat more than one or two, consider removing the yolks and snacking on the whites. Sprinkle them with your favorite (low salt) seasoning or herbs, and snack away!

Blueberries

Blueberries contain a plant compound called anthocyanin, which gives the fruit its blue color. Anthocyanin is also responsible for many health benefits, including protecting against heart disease and cancer and helping maintain bone strength, mental health, and healthy blood pressure. Some studies also show that blueberries have positive neurocognitive effects and may help delay age-related cognitive decline.

Nuts

Mixed nuts are another smart snack for seniors because they are high in heart-healthy fats and protein. Nuts like almonds, pistachios, and hazelnuts are also very high in fiber, which can prevent or relieve constipation, lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes, and more.

Opt for unsalted or lightly salted nuts rather than full-salt options as added salt (or sugar) can cancel out some of the snack’s heart-healthy benefits.

Hummus

Hummus contains various vitamins and minerals, including zinc, iron, magnesium, fiber, and more. This smart snack is great for digestive and heart health and can help reduce chronic inflammation.

Hummus is usually a dip (eaten with veggie sticks or pita chips), but it can also be added to a sandwich or wrap as a replacement for traditional (and less healthy) condiments like mayonnaise.

Apple Slices & Peanut Butter

This sweet and savory snack can be eaten for breakfast, dessert, or between meals when feeling peckish. Apples are packed with fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants, which can help support healthy digestion, brain health, and weight management. Apples can also protect against certain diseases, including cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.

Peanut butter, on the other hand, contains many health-promoting nutrients, such as vitamin E, iron, magnesium, and antioxidants, that can help support your immune system. Like apples, peanut butter can decrease your risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. It’s a great source of healthy fats and protein. Peanut butter should be eaten in moderation because it’s high in calories.

 Always consult your doctor before starting a new diet.

Heart-Healthy Diet Tips

Learn how to reduce your heart disease risk.

Protect Your Vision: 5 Eye Exercises for Seniors

Protect Your Vision: 5 Eye Exercises for Seniors

The risk of vision loss increases with age – more than 1 in 4 U.S. adults 71 years and older have visual impairment, which can significantly affect quality of life. However, a staggering 90% of vision loss can be prevented or treated. Luckily, you can prioritize your eye health (and even improve your vision) with these at-home eye exercises!   

Blinking

Blinking is something we do automatically – between 14,000-19,000 each day – so how can it be considered an eye exercise? Well, the more time you spend in front of screens – like your phone, tablet, computer, or TV – the less you blink. This can cause your eyes to dry out, making them feel gritty and tired.

While using a digital device, make it a point to blink regularly. Every few minutes, close your eyes for a few seconds and move your eyes back and forth. This can rehydrate your eyes by spreading tears over your eyes and activating the oil glands in your eyelids.

Tracing

This eye exercise is simple yet effective. Choose an item in your direct field of vision – such as a lamp or piece of artwork. Then, slowly trace the outline of that object with your eyes. Once done, trace the object in the opposite direction.

Similarly, you can focus on a spot on the ground roughly 10 feet in front of you, then slowly draw a figure eight with your eyes. Continue to trace the figure eight for 30 seconds, then switch directions. This exercise can help strengthen eye muscles while also increasing your eye’s ability to focus.

20-20-20

The blue light emitted from digital screens can strain your eyes greatly. The 20-20-20 rule can help reduce eye strain. Here’s how it works: while in front of a screen, every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break. During the break, focus on an object at least 20 feet away. This forces the eye muscles to relax.

Both the American Optometric Association (AOA) and the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) recommend this technique to reduce eye strain, and studies have shown that it can reduce watering or dry eyes and blurred vision.

Near & Far

This eye exercise involves shifting your focus between things both near and far away. Hold a finger (or another small item like a pen) about 10 inches from your face. Focus on it for 15 seconds. Then, shift your focus to an item about 20 feet away and focus on that for 15 seconds. Then, repeat! This helps train your eyes to maintain vision clarity.

Pencil Push-Ups

Take a pencil and hold it out in front of your face. Slowly bring the pencil toward your nose while focusing on the eraser or any writing on the pencil. Once the pencil reaches your nose, slowly pull it away, maintaining your focus on the target. The goal of this exercise is to maintain a single and clear vision throughout. Pencil push-ups can improve binocular vision and convergence function – or the way your eyes work together to focus clearly on near objects.

Visit Your Eye Doctor

While eye exercises can help strengthen your vision, they are not the answer for most vision problems. Regular visits to your eye doctor are crucial for maintaining healthy vision and detecting age-related eye conditions such as cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and macular degeneration. Identifying these issues early on is essential, as they can gradually deteriorate eyesight if left untreated.

7 Activities for Vision-Impaired Seniors

Many hobbies can be adjusted to suit low-vision.

Heart Health: Myth vs. Fact

Heart Health: Myth vs. Fact

Little is more important than heart health – our heart is at the core of all our bodies’ processes! Despite this knowledge, there are still some common misconceptions about heart health, heart attack, and heart disease. Let’s debunk heart health myths so you can live a healthier life!

Heart Health Myth: Heart disease is primarily a man’s disease.

For more than 30 years, heart disease has been the number one killer of U.S. men and women. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 44% of women are living with some form of heart disease. Plus, that rate increases as you get older. By 65, 70% of both men and women experience cardiovascular disease (including coronary artery disease, heart failure, stroke, and hypertension). Risk continues to escalate with age, reaching 83% for men and 87% for women by age 80.

Heart Health Myth: All heart attacks have the same symptoms/warning signs.

Shooting pain down your left arm, tightness and pain in your chest, and shortness of breath are the common signs of heart attacks that most people know. However, silent heart attacks – or heart attacks with no symptoms (or symptoms that are not usually attributed to a heart attack) – are much more common than you think. According to the Cleveland Clinic, as many as 50-80% of heart attacks are silent.

Heart Health Myth: If you have a family history of heart problems, it’s inevitable that you will have heart problems, too.

While family history does play a large part in your health, it’s not a guaranteed predictor. General preventative measures – like eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and not smoking – can be lifesaving and make all the difference to your heart health. Make sure to share your family health history with your primary care provider, too.

Heart Health Myth: It’s normal for seniors to have high blood pressure.

The risk of high blood pressure increases as we age due to arteries getting stiffer, but just because it’s more common, doesn’t mean it’s not bad for you. If high blood pressure isn’t controlled with lifestyle changes and medication, it can lead to serious health problems, including heart disease, stroke, and more. Be sure to get your blood pressure checked every time you visit your doctor!

Heart Health Myth: Mental health has nothing to do with heart health.

Many studies have proven there is a link between heart health and mental health. According to the CDC, people with depression, anxiety, stress, and PTSD may experience certain physiologic effects on the body, such as increased heart rate and blood pressure, reduced blood flow to the heart, and heightened levels of cortisol. If experienced over a long period of time, these effects can lead to calcium buildup in the arteries, metabolic disease, and heart disease.

Heart Health Myth: If you’ve smoked for years, the damage is already done. There’s no use in quitting now.

It’s never too late to stop smoking! The benefits of quitting start the moment you stop. After just 20 minutes, your heart rate returns to normal, and your blood pressure drops. After a year, your risk of heart attack and heart disease is cut in half. The sooner you quit, the healthier your heart will become.

Remember, understanding the truth about heart health can make all the difference in safeguarding your most vital organ. Take charge of your heart health today and embark on a journey toward a stronger, healthier heart.

Eat Your Way to a Healthier Heart

Learn heart-healthy diet tips.

Get a Taste of Life at Grand Oaks

See these plans and pictures come to life when you schedule a tour and walk through your future home at Grand Oaks.