A care professional sits with a senior woman at an Assisted Living community that makes special considerations for those with Parkinson's disease.

Assisted Living Considerations for Seniors with Parkinson’s Disease

Bethesda Health | June 6, 2019

According to Lea Ann Coates, Residency Counselor at Bethesda Hawthorne Place, many of the requirements of people with Parkinson’s disease are the same as other senior adults, but there are also special needs that have to be met.

Below are some items to look for when considering an assisted living facility for a person with Parkinson’s disease.

Activities of Daily Living Support

Just as with other assisted living residents, those resident’s with Parkinson’s disease will need some assistance with activities of daily living, including bathing, personal hygiene, dressing, and grooming. In particular, people with Parkinson’s may have issues with movement that require supportive care.

“Moving and balance, starting and stopping, can be difficult, so we have care partners who can provide hands-on help in steadying residents as they dress, shower, or other activities so that they feel stable and confident,” says Lea Ann.

Accessibility of the Facility

“Because walking and balance can be difficult for people with Parkinson’s, they should look at the design-friendliness of the assisted living facility they are evaluating,” says Lea Ann.

She recommends communities with short hallways and quick access to common areas like lounges, dining rooms, and places where activities take place.

Medication Management Consideration for Parkinson’s Disease

The timing of taking medications is critical for those with Parkinson’s. “The medications that control symptoms are on a specific schedule,” says Lea Ann. “So when you visit a facility, you should ask about the experience of staff in medication management for people with Parkinson’s.”

Diet and Exercise

Proper nutrition and exercise are important for everyone. At Bethesda Hawthorne Place, a registered dietitian plans menus that are healthy for all residents, and there are many activities and exercise opportunities as well.

Bethesda also partners with the American Parkinson’s Disease Association to offer a Parkinson’s-specific exercise class once per week. The class is led by a physical therapist versed in the exercise needs of people with Parkinson’s. The class is open to the general public as well as residents.

“They work on seated as well as standing activities to maintain balance,” says Lea Ann. “Because swallowing and speech may become issues as Parkinson’s progresses, these abilities are focused on as well.”

Medical Assistance and Supervision

The resources to manage and augment care are important for those with Parkinson’s.

Along with assistance in managing medications, Bethesda Hawthorne Place is scheduled to have a nurse in its community seven days a week, 24 hours per day. “Missouri does not require this kind of coverage, but we believe it provides a higher level of care for our residents,” says Lea Ann.

Bethesda also has the capacity to call in other resources, including Home Health Services for increased medical support, should the need arise.

Lea Ann adds that the assisted living staff get to know their residents very well. “So when they notice things changing, we are able to bring that to the attention of the resident and talk to their physician to see what needs to be done,” she says.

Secure Surroundings and Memory Support

Find out if the community has a secure neighborhood. Hallucinations and delusions are a side effect of some Parkinson’s medications.

Loss of memory can also be a symptom in later stages. Bethesda Hawthorne Place has a secure memory support living option that can provide increased security for those who are experiencing such challenges.

Ability to Transition to More Comprehensive Care

Another consideration is when the need for care intensifies and needs to become more comprehensive and your loved one moves from assisted living into a skilled nursing environment, would you have to find an entirely new facility for this additional care or can you move them within the organization.

As Bethesda offers skilled nursing, the transition to a more supervised level of service is available. “Our assisted living residents always have priority access to the higher levels of care,” adds Lea Ann.

If you are considering an Assisted Living community for yourself or a senior loved one, schedule a tour at Bethesda Hawthorne Place or Charless Village. Our unique living options are available for all senior residents, ensuring that you receive the right level of care, at the right time.

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