Questions About Parkinson's Disease

  1. I have accelerated Parkinson and accelerated Scoliosis ,...

    Question - JASTA, you are not alone. My mother has Parkinson's Disease that progressed quickly ("accelerated PD"?) but her physical symptoms are finally under control now thanks to finding a good combination of medications that work well for her. Since being diagnosed with PD, she developed severe scoliosis fo...
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  2. How to make a home safe for someone with Parkinson's?

    Question - I'm not sure whether I understand the question. Medicare won't pay for the actual care giving. They will pay for the equipment that the doctor orders.
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  3. How can I find a Parkinson's support group?

    Question - You're right that a support group can help provide practical and moral support. The American Parkinson's Disease Association offers a directory to its local chapters at its website www.apdaparkinson.org, and these chapters can give you leads to local groups -- and will definitely have other resource...
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  4. How can we keep my father, who suffers with Parkinson's, awake during the day?

    Question - I'm sorry to hear that father is only awake for what sounds like a few hours a day. I agree with many of the other answers, as sleep disorders are part and parcel of PD. That being said, there are a number of step that we take to try and help:
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  5. Are there foods that reduce risk of Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease?

    Question - The foods we eat are our number one weapon in disease prevention and influence how well we age both physically and mentally. The risk of developing age related neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's may be reduced by diets that are rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory c...
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  6. Could Parkinson's cause numbness in feet?

    Question - Magnetic Insoles can help with the numbness in the feet. Please contact me for more information
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  7. Parkinson's is making my husband less social, what can I do?

    Question - Patients with Parkinson's disease, such as your husband, often have difficulty feeling overwhelmed in social situations and it is not uncommon for them to shut down or isolate themselves when there are multiple lines of banter to keep up with. Although it is not clear why this is, we suspect that t...
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  8. Does an increase in vitamin E help those with Parkinson's?

    Question - Although there has been much interest in vitamin E for multiple neurodegenerative diseases, there is not compelling data to suggest that there a role for vitamin E in the treatment of Parkinson's Disease. Further, there is not good data to support a role of vitamin E in slowing the disease progress...
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  9. What kind of specialist should I go to about my husband's confusion and movement disorder?

    Question - This is a difficult situation as "vascluar parkinsonism", "vascular dementia" and other "structural causes of Parkinsonism" are very difficult to treat. My sense is that a very thoughtful memory expert (sometimes called a behavioral neurologist) may be helpful in some regards and may help with conf...
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  10. Does Medicare cover massage therapy, physical trainer and physical therapy?

    Question - I read that Medicare pays 100% of in home massages, for us folks that can't get to office's, do to physical problems, or mental problems, I have both. Therefore, I'm very tense and locked up. I'm gonna get me one. Diana
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  11. Are there special housing facilities for Parkinson's patients?

    Question - As far as I know, there are no retirement communities dedicated to Parkinson's specifically, although some may offer special support to those suffering from this illness. My mother had Parkinson's and she lived out her entire life in a retirement community. At the end she hired her own caregiver, bu...
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  12. Does Parkinson's cause buring feet and foot pain?

    Question - Tingling in your feet can be caused by neuropathy (nerve problems), vascular disease (circulation problems), or diabetes. Since you have Parkinson's disease, it is most likely a nerve issue.  I would tell your health care professional about this pain, as there are medications to help with it. It c...
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  13. Why does the drug levodopa seem to work well for my father with Parkinson's only at certain times of the day?

    Question - The first thing I'd check is that he's not taking the levodopa with a high-protein meal, because that in itself could be knocking out the medicine's effect. Levodopa should be taken either 30 minutes before or an hour after a high-protein meal. So if, say, your father eats a big steak for dinner and...
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  14. How can I help my dad correct his bad Parkinson's posture to avoid falling over?

    Question - Parkinson's disease patients lose the "automatic pilot" programs in the brain that normally let you do many complex tasks without thinking about them. Spouses and family often try to help by telling a patient to straighten up or to make sure to swing both arms when he walks. But the patient can only...
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  15. Is it OK for my mother to keep her recent diagnosis of Parkinson's disease a secret from friends and colleagues?

    Question - First, your mother's concern about her work situation is understandable. Sometimes patients, despite doing a good job at work, will get fired because of their Parkinson's disease. That's a violation of national law, but it happens all the time. So I can't judge your mother's work situation; she has ...
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  16. How do I get Mom to see a doctor when she's in denial that she might have symptoms of Parkinson's disease?

    Question - It isn't clear from this description that your mother has Parkinson's disease, but you're wise to encourage her to have a doctor evaluate her symptoms. Your mom's reluctance to see a physician could mean that she suspects something is wrong, but she's not ready to deal with it yet.
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  17. What should I do when my parent with Parkinson's disease suddenly "freezes"?

    Question - Getting stuck in place tends to happen when people with Parkinson's disease are anxious or feel rushed, or when they're navigating small passageways like going in and out of elevators or through a doorway. It's embarrassing and awkward for them.
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  18. Could my father's hand tremor be Parkinson's disease?

    Question - It's possible your father has Parkinson's disease, because a common early symptom is a tremor on one side of the body that occurs when the patient isn't trying to do anything. This is called a "resting" tremor, and it tends to go away when the patient starts doing things with the hand or leg that's ...
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  19. Are there any better medications for Parkinson's than Carbidopa and Levodopa?

    Question - Carbidopa/Levodopa, though around since the early 70's in a usable form, still remains the gold standard for Parkinson's patients. Although there are a number of other medications including the dopamine agonists (ropinirole, pramipexole), MAO-inhibitors (rasagiline, selegiline), COMT inhibitors (en...
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  20. Does levodopa eventually stop working?

    Question - The idea that levodopa works for a while and then ceases to be effective is a myth. The myth sticks around because Parkinson's disease is a progressive disorder.
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  21. Should my father be treated for "parkinson-like" symptoms if he is otherwise in good health?

    Question - There is no question that your father would be helped by being treated for parkinsonian or old age symptoms. The question is what that treatment should be. You already were advised that a proper diagnosis should be made by a neurologist specializing in movement disorders and that is standard practic...
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  22. Where can I find a support group for caregivers of dementia...

    Question - The Alzheimer’s Association really is the best place for a caregiver of someone with Alzheimer’s or another dementia to look when seeking local support. To find groups in Palm Beach County, search the Southeast Florida Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association at: http://www.alz.org/seflorida/index.asp...
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  23. How can I get him to a dental visit?

    Question - Contact the area agency on aging in your county to see if there are low cost transportation services for the elderly in your area. In the absence of that, may need to privately hire (non medical in home care company) someone to transport. Call a local dentist (the family dentist?) to see if he or s...
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  24. What do we do during a panic attack?

    Question - These sound like panic attacks, which are very common and very treatable. Before assuming that is the cause of her symptoms, however, she should see her physician and be sure there is not some other medical explanation. One of the medical explanations to consider if she experiences the hallucinati...
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  25. What could be causing the sudden onset of my father's anxiety and depression?

    Question - This sounds incredibly frustrating. Your dad must be extremely uncomfortable and no one seems to know how to help him. The symptoms you describe, can be caused by a number of medical illnesses, but I am presuming with all the care he has had, the workups did not find any such illnesses. His sympt...
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  26. Will he ever walk or talk again?

    Question - Unfortunately, I cannot tell from your letter if your husband will be able to walk or care for himself again. You mention he had an aneurysm, but you do not say if he had surgery to repair it or if he had a ruptured aneurysm. With the surgical repair, it will take 6 months for him to recooperate. ...
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  27. What are the symptoms and stages for Progressive Supranuclear Palsy?

    Question - Progressive Supranuclear Palsy(PSP), rather than being a type of Parkinson's disease, is an atypical parkinsonian syndrome that shares many features with Parkinson's disease. Patients with PSP, like your father, may have a number different symptoms but the symptoms that usually prompt this diagnosi...
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  28. What are the end stage symptoms of Parkinson's?

    Question - Parkinson's disease affects the whole nervous system and over time patients such as your mom develop a number of symptoms that are not often thought about. Although we often focus on tremor and movement problems, other "non-motor" symptoms can affect her quality of life more severely. No two pat...
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  29. Is Parkinson's Disease hereditary?

    Question - The question as to whether Parkinson disease is hereditary is quite complicated. Researchers now think that about 7 or 8 percent of patients with PD have a direct genetic link. This is much more likely to be the case if your parents had onset of Parkinson disease in their 40s or younger. Otherwis...
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  30. How can I have a say in my married father's care?

    Question - Adult children would like to have a say in a parent's care when the parent is seriously ill. However, when the parent has a spouse, the child's opinion will have to be secondary. This does not mean that you should not participate in your father's care or contribute your opinion in the decision-makin...
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  31. Does Lewy Body Dementia look like Parkinson's?

    Question - Lewy body disease can indeed look like Parkinson's. The dementia that manifests in Parkinson's is a Lewy body dementia (LBD). In the earlier stages of LBD, the manifestations tend to mimic Alzheimer's disease (AD). It is not rare to be diagnosed with a dual diagnosis of AD and LBD or Parkinson's.
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  32. Can Parkinson's be diagnosed by only one symptom?

    Question - When diagnosing Parkinson's Disease, two of four cardinal features (rigidity or stiffness, tremor, bradykinesia (slowness of movement) and postural instability) must be present. That being said, there are often cases when we strongly suspect Parkinson's disease based on other symptoms. I would sug...
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  33. Will stopping the meds stop his delusions?

    Question - Patients with Lewy Body dementia or Parkinson's disease with dementia can have hallucinations regardless of the medications that they take, but sinemet can make the hallucinations more common and worse. That being said, the other Parkinson's medications are often more likely to cause hallucinations...
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  34. Is restless leg syndrome related to Parkinson's disease?..

    Question - Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) is not related to Parkinson's Disease (PD), although patients with PD may be more likely to have RLS symptoms as part of their disease. People with RLS are not at an increased risk of developing PD. The fact that some of the same medications are helpful in treating thes...
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  35. How long will Parkinson's medications stay in your body?

    Question - Hallucinations and confusion are not uncommon in Parkinson's disease, particularly in patients whom have had the disease for a number of years and/or have memory problems associated with the disease. Medications that we use for Parkinson's disease treatment can contribute to hallucinations as can o...
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  36. Is the Theracycle beneficial to those with Parkinson's?

    Question - As you and your mom know, exercise is very important in Parkinson's disease and more and more studies have shown the benefit of various types of exercise in Parkinson's disease. Studies have shown great benefit to tandem bicycle riding, tango, and other forms of vigorous exercise. That being said,...
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  37. Could Dad's Parkinson's medication adjustment be causing his seeming mental decline?

    Question - This is a very difficult situation that your father is facing, as Parkinson's patients very often decline for a while when hospitalized. I would expect that the long hospitalization with pneumonia contributed to his confusion. Although sinemet can cause confusion, hallucinations and other side eff...
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  38. What disorders mimic Parkinson's disease?

    Question - There are a number of disorders that share some of the same symptoms as Parkinson's disease and can result in "diagnostic confusion" for physicians and patients alike. Often, when patients are progressing very rapidly, develop balance problems within the first few years, don't respond to a strong d...
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  39. How can I get my father to accept his Parkinson's diagnosis?

    Question - Accepting the diagnosis of Parkinson's disease and the physical limitations that may result is occasionally very problematic for patients. As you well know, this often results in a fair amount of turmoil for the family and can result in injury or overall reduced quality of life for the patient. On ...
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  40. Is it possible for a forty year-old to have dementia?

    Question - Yes indeed there is such a thing as '40 year old dementia' and yes, it is different from clinical depression although it may at times mimic it. Early Onset Alzheimer's (AD) is a topic of great interest to the professional aging community and in recent years has gained much-needed public awareness. ...
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  41. This family needs help - what can be done for them?

    Question - Your question about a close relative caregiver who needs help and doesn't know where to get it has a lot of parts. First, let's consider the mom who has dementia.
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  42. Is it normal to talk in your sleep while on Carbidopa?

    Question - More than half of patients with Parkinson's disease will at some point have what we call "REM sleep behavior disorder" or RBD. This means that they act out or vocalize their dreams. Behaviors range from simple conversations to kicking, punching and even falling out of bed. This disorder is not ca...
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  43. What are my legal responsibilities when caring for a parent who lives with me?

    Question - You could use the web site elderlawanswers.com to ask any legal questions about caring for your parent at home.
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  44. Why is my husband acting like he has dementia after his surgery?

    Question - I have read the above question and the response from the anethesiologist.
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  45. Am I at risk for Parkinson's?

    Question - This is a very difficult question to answer and to some degree depends on the age at which your father was disgnosed (young onset is more likely to be monogenetic) and whether or not he has a known genetic mutation or risk factor. Typically, however, we think that less than 8% of all parkinson's pa...
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  46. Are my mother's sleep problems connected to her Parkinson's?

    Question - Yes, this can be related to her Parkinson's disease, as patients with PD can have a number of sleep problems including acting out dreams at night, difficult with sleep maintenance (fall asleep okay but then only sleep for an hour or two), restless legs, and potentially a higher risk of sleep apnea. ...
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  47. Foods or vitamins that help with Parkinson's?

    Question - In the early stages of Parkinson's disease there is no special diet, per say, that is recommended or required. In the later stages it is often helpful to work with an RD, Nutritionist if the side effects of medication, such as constipation, loss of appetite, dry mouth or nausea, become an issue. Ha...
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  48. What is the difference between mild cognitive impairment and Parkinson's dementia?

    Question - Mild cognitive impairment implies that a patient is not normal in one or more "domains" of memory, but is not severly struggling in these areas to a degree that it impacts day to day function badly. PD with dementia is thought to be more severe and often patients with PDD (Parkinsons Disease with D...
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  49. What can we expect at this stage of Parkinson's disease?

    Question - Although we "stage" Parkinson's disease for research studies, this often doesn't help predict how patients will progress and what type of assistance/living situation they will need. From your description, it sounds like she is at a later stage of disease and may have some cognitive involvement as w...
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  50. Dad is refusing to eat after his surgery, is this typical for recovery or is he giving up?

    Question - Sometimes people, like your father, who are facing a life-limiting disease appear to be "giving up" when the family sees a decline. Realize that your father has gone through a lot up to this point. He broke his hip, required surgery, and now resides in a nursing home. He may just be so tired and,...
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  51. How to help with falling issues of a Parkinson's Disease patient?

    Question - Falling is a very difficult problem in Parkinson's disease, as a patients' sense of balance is not helped by any of the medications that we use to treat PD. If the patient is falling because their legs freeze up and then they fall forward, we will often be able to help by increasing the medication ...
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  52. What are the liability issues of someone driving with Parkinson's disease?

    Question - Department of Motor Vehicles reporting guidelines vary with each state. Most states require that you report any changes in your physical, visual or cognitive abilities. When a person or a health care professional reports to DMV,a Medical Review Committee evaluate a person's condition and ability t...
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  53. What are good books to read about Parkinson's dementia caregiving?

    Question - This is a good question, and I'm not sure that I have great answers for you. In terms of dealing with the dementia issues, books like "The 36 hour day" have been helpful for some of our patients even though it is targeted more at Alzheimer's disease. The basic principles hold true.
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  54. With all the problems Dad has been having lately, could he be suffering from Parkinson's disease?

    Question - I'm sorry to hear that things have been getting pretty rough for your father. This is a very difficult situation and based on the symptoms and signs that you describe there are a number of possibilities. My sense is that visiting a "behavioral neurologist" who specializes in memory loss issues or ...
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  55. Can Parkinson's cause petit mal seizures?

    Question - The short answer to your question is "no." On occasion we have patients with PD, particularly those with a lot of cognitive symptoms have episodes that look like partial seizures such that they are staring off or somewhat unresponsive for a few moments. Rarely have we ever seen EEG findings of sei...
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  56. Are my husband's new addictive behaviors related to his Parkinson's medication?

    Question - Addictive and compulsive behaviors have been linked to some Parkinson's disease medications and we often reduce medications or alter medication regimens when we hear of this type of behavior. The "bad actors" in this regard are the dopamine agonists such as ropinirole and pramipexole (Requip and Mi...
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  57. Is it the caffeine in coffee that helps prevent Parkinson's?

    Question - The Parkinson's Disease research community isn't really sure about the answer to the question as to the reason for why coffee drinkers are less likely to develop Parkinson's disease, although similar reductions in risk have not yet been noted in other caffeinated beverages. Thus, we think that the...
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  58. Is taking Prednisone and Neurontin a problem for my mother who has Parkinsons?

    Question - Typically Prednisone nor Neurontin are a problem in and of themselves for Parkinson's disease patients. They don't really interact with the PD meds (though I obviously don't know your mother's specific regimen). That being said, they do have independent side effects and affect all patients in diff...
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  59. My husband has Parkinson's and gets social security. I do not work and am worried about his care. What will I live on if facility takes his check?

    Question - The $526/month has to do with home care. You may be better off financially if your husband moves into a nursing home. Did you understand my explanation of the Minimum Monthly Needs Allowance?
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  60. Tips for Getting off Parkinson's Medications?

    Question - My dad is having terrible side effects from his Parkinson's medications including delusions and hallucinations. He has changed doctors changed meds and dosages various times and its just various versions of various side effects. He finally tired of it all wants to get off all this medication and try...
  61. How can I get my father to join a Parkinson's disease support group?

    Question - I'm a big fan of support groups. If your father is apprehensive about seeing other patients with Parkinson's disease who are further along in the illness, what I'd say to him is: "Yes, you may see someone who's considerably impaired because of Parkinson's. But for every one person you see having tro...
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  62. My father, who has Parkinson's disease, has been experiencing sundown syndrome. Is this normal or a side effect of a medication?

    Question - My senior dad experienced this during his last few months after he entered the end stage of Parkinsons Disease and hospice. It was primarily due to a new medication he got in the hospital - I believe it was called Haldol. They changed him to risperadol and that made a tremendous difference. It's def...
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  63. Do they have medications for a 75-year-old woman who shakes really badly but doesn't have Parkinson's?

    Question - It sounds like the person you're concerned about has some kind of tremor (the medical term for regular shaking of a body part), and someone has told you it's not Parkinson’s disease. There are medications available to treat tremor, but to prescribe the right medication for this woman, more informat...
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  64. How do I deal with a husband with Parkinson's who has problems with urination but refuses to wear diapers or even underwear?

    Question - I am sorry that you are struggling with this difficult situation. It sounds as if your husband may be having some cognitive changes (changes in the way his brain is processing thought) in addition to the Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson's disease affects a part of the brain that is related to motor fu...
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  65. Is it common for patients with Parkinson's disease to develop psychological problems?

    Question - In my experience, it is often common for people with Parkinson's Disease to develop psychiatric symptoms, especially as the disease progresses. The most common problem tends to be depression, as both the disease itself and the loss of function can lead to this. Fortunately, antidepressants often h...
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  66. Why is my mother having trouble swallowing?

    Question - I would have this problem investigated, as it sounds as if you are taking alot of time to feed her. Some people do develop swallowing problems from diseases like strokes, Parkinson's, or dementias. I would let your mother's health care provider know that this is an issue, so that they can find out...
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  67. Is there a device to deal with falls?

    Question - There is a method to help people get up from the floor, and your mother and father may be able to use this method to help them. Your mother clearly cannot lift your father from the floor, because of their weight difference, but even lifting someone much lighter can result in injury to one party or ...
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  68. What are antipsychotic drugs?

    Question - Antipsychotic medications are a group of medications designed to treat psychotic symptoms. Psychotic symptoms in the elderly generally consist of hallucinations and delusions. Hallucinations are false sensory perceptions and can involve any of the senses. One can see things, hear things, touch th...
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  69. My parents are divided on assisted living -- what do we do?

    Question - This is a tough one; I don’t envy your position here. Often when a person refuses a move to an assisted living it’s based on a strong desire to remain in his/her home and maintain the lifestyle he/she has grown accustomed to, mixed in with some fear of the unknown. Understand that you can’t get any...
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  70. How can I gently approach the subject of handing over the car keys with my dad?

    Question - It's time to work closely with your father's health care providers. Driving requires the ability to see, think, and move. Parkinson's symptoms and treatments may impair driving fitness and it sounds like your father has both cognitive and motor skill issues.
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  71. How do I decide what is the best environment for my mother?

    Question - This sounds like a tough situation. I know that you are at your wit's end, as you are trying to keep your mother in her home, but this is clearly not working out for either of you. The reality is that your mother doesn't sound like she really even knows that she is in her own home at this point. ...
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  72. What are some yoga exercises that a person with Parkinson's and Alzheimer's could do?

    Question - The appropriate yoga exercises for people with Alzheimers and Parkinsons vary widely depending on what stage of the disease the person is in. I can, however, offer you a few tips. First, people with Parkinson's gradually develop a rigidity to their movements and a difficulty initiating movments. Usi...
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  73. How should we handle it when my mother-in-law tells us stories that are obviously hallucinations?

    Question - Not an answer but a shared experience. Just before I moved Mother to a memory care facility she called the police at midnight to ask them to take her to visit her mother and daddy. I found that she had their pictures in her robe pocket. Later, after moving, she asked me repeatedly if she had let ...
    7 Community Answers
  74. Why are urinary tract infections in elderly women so common?

    Question - This is a complicated question, and a good one. I'll to simplify the answer. There are several reasons why women are at a higher risk of urinary tract infections (UTI) as they age.
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  75. Is dementia the same as Alzheimer's?

    Question - Not exactly. Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia. Dementia is not a disease; it's a set of symptoms that affect daily functioning (such as memory loss and changes in abstract reasoning and attention) caused by deterioration in the brain. Sometimes the two terms are used intercha...
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  76. How can I explain the difference between dementia and Alzheimers?

    Question - I'm not sure why you need to convince him -- or can, aside from repeating the facts. Parkinson's Disease Dementia (PDD) and Alzheimer's Disease share many symptoms and, as your mother illustrates, treatments. Both are neurodegenerative brain disorders that progress at similar rates. PDD is common in...
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  77. What words of support can I offer a friend who's a family caregiver?

    Question - It’s been my experience that caregivers welcome distractions, especially the funny kind, as much as they welcome counsel when the emotional roller coaster ride becomes overwhelming. I happen to think that those who can provide both kinds of support make the best kind of friends. That said, don’t f...
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  78. We feel dad's CPA took advantage of him by adding himself as a trustee. What can we do to protect him?

    Question - Your father-in-law is the only one who can change the terms of his trust, so you’d need to concentrate first on him. You might want to ask outright why he made the change and listen to the answer he gives. He may feel he is already overburdening you with all the bill-paying and caretaking you’re alr...
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  79. How do I deal with caregiver anger from my brother?

    Question - Caregiver anger is often the last thing we have time to deal with as responsible Adult Children. As a treating psychologist for the last 37 years I have often seen how often men in our society can easily express anger, and rage long before they ever connect with their underlying sadness and grief. ...
    Icon-expert-hh9a0a45474a2 Expert Answers, 44 Community Answers
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