Parkinson’s Disease affects more than 1 million people in the United States. It is a neurodegenerative disorder that not only causes changes to occur in the brain but also drastically alters the way the body functions and moves.
As the disease progresses and muscles stiffen, a few common side effects of Parkinson’s include a freezing gait (pattern of walking) and a decreased sense of balance and coordination. Both a weakened gait or insufficient balance can lead to dangerous falls, especially in seniors, so it is important to do what you can to help preserve mobility and ensure their safety.
Our experienced at-home caregivers at Blue Water Homecare honor Parkinson’s Awareness Month this April. We strive to offer as many ways to help your loved one living with Parkinson’s achieve their best quality of life.
How can you help someone improve a freezing gait?
If you notice a freezing gait— or inability to move forward while walking— here are some tips to help with those mobility challenges:
- Counting steps and keeping a regular cadence, one step at a time
- Attempting larger strides rather than small steps, which can lead to shuffling or stalling
- Envisioning an imaginary line or object in their path that they aim to cross over
What are ways to maintain good balance and mobility with Parkinson’s Disease?
- Keep hands free at all times when walking unless reaching for a handrail or using an aid such as a cane, and stow important items out of reach in a handy backpack or fanny pack for easy access.
- Gently swing arms back and forth when walking, from front to back, to generate equal movement on both sides of the body.
- Make every effort to lift feet fully off the ground when walking as shuffling or dragging feet can cause tripping or falls.
- Try not to take turns too quickly or cut corners, and use a wider radius to navigate sharp angles or narrow walkways.
- Do not become distracted while walking, limit talking (no cell phone use) and keep focused on the destination ahead.
- Wear properly fitting shoes with sturdy soles and closed toes for the maximum support.
- Go slow when changing positions or directions during any movements or when getting up or down from a seated or lying position.
- Consider using a walking aid such as a cane or walker to give support and help steady your steps. Make sure that it is sturdy and one that your physician or physical therapist recommends.
Regular exercise and physical therapy also go a long way in helping to improve balance and strength for those living with Parkinson’s. Additionally, activities such as yoga, tai chi, and dancing are great for encouraging flexibility.
At Blue Water Homecare, we offer personalized, safe, and comforting Parkinson’s care services at home or in a facility. Helpful guidance on knowing when to seek assistance with your loved one’s care can be found here.
Blue Water homecare also provides at-home, dementia, and hospice care services. Contact us today to learn how we can help your loved one maintain their dignity and independence while aging in place. And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Instagram.