Caring for a patient with Parkinson’s disease can be a difficult and stressful task for any caregiver, whether your are a loved one or a professional home attendant, and even the simplest tasks may require some planning and special consideration. Daily personal hygiene is one of the most important points to focus upon because Parkinson’s patients, especially in the end stages, are more prone to infections and complications, which could be prevented with a greater degree of fastidiousness on the part of both the patient and caregiver.
Dental Care for Parkinson’s Patients
While the resting tremor of Parkinson’s disease may not pose a problem to patients in the early stages, those in the late stages may find it difficult to coordinate the brushing movements required for good dental care. Caregivers should take note of mouth ulcers and other oral conditions in Parkinson’s patients which may be aggravated by hard or rough brushing. Using a proper toothpaste to cater for the the sensitivity of the inner lining of the mouth should also be taken into consideration. Using a mouth rinse or flossing may not be easy for Parkinson’s patients in the end stages and may need to be skipped altogether. However regular brushing, frequent visits to a dentist and even simple measures like wiping the inside of the mouth and tongue with glycerin will go a long way in maintaining healthy teeth and gums.
Wound Care for Parkinson’s Patients
Bed sores may be a problem in Parkinson’s patients who are bedridden or isolated to a wheelchair for a long period of time. Bed sores are pressure ulcers where the skin and tissue gets damaged due to reduced blood supply to the area upon which pressure is exerted. A Parkinson’s patient who is bedridden should be turned regularly and allowed to move around with the aid of a wheelchair. Movement reduces the chances of a bed sore developing but hygiene is equally important. The bed sore should be treated with an antimicrobial topical solution to prevent a bacterial or fungal infection. In severe cases, antibiotics may be necessary but consult with a doctor first to prevent drug interactions with the Parkinson’s medicines.
General wound care is also important and appropriate dressing is necessary as advised by a doctor. Due to the lack of activity and poor dietary habits of Parkinson’s patients, their healing time and immunity is reduced and proper care is therefore necessary.
Daily Bathing & Skin Care
Bath time should be handled with care as an end stage Parkinson’s patient may be unable to stand in a shower and it can be risky moving the patient in and out of a bath tub. A sponge bath may have to be considered. Avoid using any perfumed soap or antibacterial soaps as these may cause drying and irritation of the skin. Body lotions should be hypoallergenic so as not to irritate the skin and if there is any signs of a rash, consult with a doctor to prevent it from spreading. A rash may be the early sign of a fungal infection, allergy or even a bed sore. Simple measures like cutting the finger and toenails will prevent damage to the surrounding skin when scratching as a Parkinson’s patient may have difficulty in coordinating the scratching motion and the amount of pressure they apply on the skin.
Taking care of patient in the end stages of Parkinson’s requires time and attention even to minute details that may be taken for granted. Always consult with a medical doctor or professional nurse for advice on caring for a Parkinson’s patients and the special considerations relating to personal hygiene and dental care.