In April we commemorate those who live with the debilitating effects of Parkinson’s disease. We want to acknowledge the challenges for those facing the effects of the condition in their daily lives while honouring those who are caregivers to Parkinson’s sufferers. It is only fitting, therefore, to help spread awareness.
What is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s Disease is a nervous system disorder. It is called an idiopathic condition, meaning the medical experts are still uncertain of what causes the disorder. Parkinson’s means the part of the brain responsible for producing dopamine, has experienced nerve damage. This part of the brain controls smooth muscle movements.
Parkinson's Disease is characterised by two main symptom displays: motor symptoms and non-motor symptoms. Motor symptoms include light body tremors. These tremors are slow and steady, typically starting in one area of the body like a limb, and gradually spreading across the rest of the body. Bradykinesia is also a common symptom (slowed movements), and one of the later symptoms is postural instability, meaning a person may find it difficult to remain upright.
The non-motor symptoms are far more varied. No one has the exact same set of symptoms, as the condition varies from person to person. Some suffer intensely while others have minor symptoms that are easily managed;
● Difficulty speaking
● Loss of smell
● Visual disturbances
● Mental health issues like anxiety
● Muscle tiredness and aches
● Cognitive decline - difficulties in reasoning, remembering, dementia and mood swings
● Increased sweating
● Difficulty swallowing
● Sleep troubles - vivid dreams, REM sleep disorders
● Excessive salivation
● Urinary complications, including loss of bladder control
● Speech difficulties, from stuttering to volume control and speech pace
While there is no cure for Parkinson’s Disease, the symptoms can be managed. The symptoms can be simplified with assistive living devices.
Choosing the right mobility equipment to help you get around
There are many important assistive mobility devices that will help you simplify daily life for those living with PD.
● Walking Cane: the Comfort-Plus Quad Cane by Airgo is very suitable for PD patients as it has a single shaft attached to a four-legged base that allows for greater weight-bearing. It is designed to provide extra stability for individuals who need it. This cane can be held in the left or right hand.
There are also three different types of walking frames;
1.non- wheeled walking frames are a type of walking equipment, lightweight and robust, offering stability and support to those who need it whilst walking. The replaceable rubber feet ensure the longevity of the product. These key features define the non-wheeled walker:
● Lightweight Zimmer frame
● Suited to average-sized users
● Height adjustable legs
● Ergonomic handgrips for added comfort
These walking frames are the most stable frames from the three models.
2. folding walking frames are an easy-to-use option for those wanting to put their walking frames away if they don’t need them. Or use them to take with you in the boot of the car. It folds with simple mechanisms.
These frames are defined by their key features;
● Folding Zimmer Frame
● Lightweight device
● Comfortable handgrip
● Compact for transport and storage
Our Folding Walking Frame with Pull Ball by Days does not have clasps, catches, buttons or complicated systems to fold it. Just pull the ball towards you and the frames pivots and folds.
3. wheeled walking frames provide the ultimate assistance with manoeuvrability. Making use of wheels and skis will have the users enjoy these walking aids without needing to lift their support. The skis (also called glides) help to minimise tripping hazards. The Walking Frame with wheels and skis by BetterLiving will help to push the frame easily.
Handy devices for the bedroom
If you are experiencing difficulty getting in and out of bed, here are some devices that may be worth investing in.
1. Smooth satin fitted sheets help to simplify sliding and turning the body in bed. It is these simple movements we tend to forget about until we are no longer able to perform them. The shiny satin material provides a slippery panel for this purpose. Our secure fitted Wonder Sheets have a Satin panel (where your hips rest) and the two other parts are made from polycotton fabric for extra grip. The Wonder Sheets will make moving in bed a breeze!
2. A bed raiser is used to heighten the whole bed making it more accessible. It will help you get in and out of bed with more ease as it reduces the strain of bending to stand or sit. Our stackable Cone Bed Risers from Homecraft is a bed heightener that will help you adjust the height of your bed with any height you need! They are available in two heights: 9 and 14 cm. No need to purchase a new bed!
Which daily living aids will help in the bathroom?
Navigating the bathroom just got a lot easier for those with PD. Daily living aids can extend someone’s capabilities, giving them more independence and privacy for longer. These assistive devices minimise the risk of falling or injuries and reduce the stress levels surrounding toileting, bathing, and showering.
- Raised toilet Seat: 3-in-1 Toilet Seat Raiser – Aquasense
This toilet seat raiser helps by introducing both security and flexibility. With the option of using one or two armrests, it makes it easier to transfer weight from a seated position into a standing position, and vice versa, thanks to the added height of 10 cm.
This multifunctional shower is a unique bathroom and toileting chair. The mobility aid offers convenience, making it easier for those living with PD to enjoy a shower without the worry of falling. It can be used in 6 different ways, as a:
● Zimmer frame
● over toilet frame
● raised toilet
● bedside commode
● lifting device to help you out of your chair
It comes with a removable commode pan. This chair transforms in no time!
This bath transfer board offers an ergonomic design and enables you to get in and out of the tub with ease and confidence. It’s designed to work with your body, giving you added security.
- Multi-Adjustable Bath Safety Rail- Aquasense:
The Multi-Adjustable Bath safety Rail by Aquasense is a handle that clamps on the bathtub, giving you a safe and secure anchor point to hold onto with your hands. It minimises the risk of slipping and falling. Forget about hiring someone to install it: this is tool-free setup and really easy to install.
- Grab Rails
Grab rails can offer much-needed support and stability. There are several models of safety grab rails to choose from: fixed or removable; shorter and longer. Our Portable Telescoping Grab Bar by Bridge Medical is considered one of the most convenient safety grab rails you can purchase as it offers an extendable handle specifically designed for 10 x 10 cm tiles. It allows you to shorten or lengthen the bar to adjust it to your bathroom needs. The suction cups offer the most reliable hold on the market today.
Assistive devices that make eating and drinking easier
For those whose movements are affected by PD, eating and drinking have gone from being a pleasant experience to a dreaded one. There is a variety of assistive devices on the market to make eating and drinking more enjoyable.
Specially designed cutlery:
- The Stabilising Spoon by Elispoon reduces the unsteadiness that comes with PD and other conditions, like strokes and general instability and limited movement. It is designed with a mechanical system - opposed to electrical - using a counterweight resulting in the bowl of the spoon remaining horizontal at all times, whatever movement you make with the wrist. It comes in a teaspoon and a tablespoon size. Regain your confidence and control while eating with this innovative cutlery!
- Sure-Grip Bendable Cutlery is a special adaptive eating device consisting of a fork, tablespoon, teaspoon and knife. Being bendable in any angle provides more adaptability to each individual and helps those who suffer from tremors to eat with stability and comfort. This set comes with the following features;
● No need to lift the elbow, it curves the food towards your mouth
● Wide easy-grip handle
● Made of stainless steel and textured grip
● Comfortable in the hand
● For right or left hand
- Scoop Bowl Hi-Lo from Performance Health
This handy scoop bowl is break-proof and designed with a higher side to ‘trap’ the food and scoop it onto the fork or spoon. The lower side gives easier access than regular bowls. This assistive eating device enables you to eat with less movement from the supporting arm.
This month, we have compiled a Tremor Dining Kit that includes the Sure-Grip Bendable Cutlery and the Scoop Bowl Hi-Lo. For just $49.95, mealtimes will be more enjoyable!
Helpful aids for in the kitchen
When PD progresses, it can be challenging to prepare your favourite meals due to tremors, rigidity and coordination. Fortunately, there are several tools and living aids that will make cooking much easier. Here are some suggestions.
The Spillnot is a unique stabilising cup holder used to carry cups and glasses holding a beverage. Whatever movement you make with the Spillnot, the beverage will hold still. This effective gadget is very useful for those who have tremors and unsteadiness but want to transport a cup of tea or coffee from the kitchen to their chosen place to sit without spilling.
- Egg Cracker – Ezcracker
Cracking an egg is one of these tasks that become more challenging with a tremor. Our Egg Cracker by Ezcracker is a great help! Just insert the egg in the cradle, squeeze and pour the egg out. All this without dropping the shell!
- Food Preparation Board – Etac
Another essential kitchen aid that can come in handy for people PD patients is the Food Preparation Board from Etac. The board makes grating, cutting, whisking, chopping, and peeling much easier.
- Jug Kettle Tipper - Homecraft
This kettle tipper helps to hold your jug or kettle in place in a cradle so you can gently tip it to pour hot water without having to lift the jug or kettle.
Helpful aids to manage your medication
Memory loss is an aspect of PD that comes with its own challenges. It can be very difficult to remember to do basic things, like taking your daily pills. That’s why pill organisers are so useful and necessary. Pill cutters and punchers will assist you as well with cutting and pressing the pills out of the packaging.
- Pill organisers:
The Large weekly Pill Dispenser from Aidapt helps you take the right medication at the right time of day. This pill organiser has clearly marked letters on each compartment for each day of the week. They have lids which can keep the pills safe from moisture until they are needed.
- Pill cutters:
This 3-in-1 Pill Crusher and Cutter with storage from Aidapt makes it easier to swallow pills by crushing or cutting them and neatly dispensing them. You can also store pills safely in this storage container.
- Pill Punchers:
The Pill Puncher from Aidapt is designed to assist with the dispensing of daily medication. It can handle a variety of different pill shapes and sizes. It helps those with limited grip and mobility in their hands, to safely remove pills from blister packs. It is lightweight, easy to use, and convenient to carry on you.
Parkinson’s can be a debilitating condition. The good news is that a lot of daily living aids can give you much of your past freedom and independence, back. They help to keep the home safer and enable you to do a great number of basic functions in your daily life.
Need help or advice
Would you like more information on Parkinson’s Disease? Contact Parkinson’s Australia. Or you can call the National Helpline for Parkinson's on 1800 644 189 for all the necessary advice on Parkinson's Disease and coronavirus.