The body’s voluntary and involuntary movements are all controlled by the brain and central nervous system. The more coordinated your movements are, the better day to day functioning and mobility you experience. If voluntary movements cannot be controlled and slowly become involuntary, it can be a sign of a movement disorder.
A movement disorder may be caused by a neurodegenerative disease that primarily affects the neurons of the brain. A prime example of a neurodegenerative disease that causes movement problems is Parkinson’s disease (PD). It’s the same disease that actor Michael J. Fox of the “Back to the Future” movie franchise was diagnosed with when he was 29 years old.
Understanding Parkinson’s Disease
Sometimes, the brain falls short of producing dopamine, a chemical that functions as a neurotransmitter. When that happens, the brain may fail to send signals to certain body parts to perform as it should; thus, movement, memory, mood, and others may be affected. Such is the case with Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s disease, the most common movement disorder, reportedly affects about 1 million Americans, with men 1.5 times more likely to have it than women. Although the disease usually affects older adults, certain cases also occur in the younger population known as early onset PD.
Parkinson’s disease is characterized by the following:
- Slowness of movement
- Poor coordination
- Stiffness of the limbs and torso
- Poor balance
- Resting tremors
Presently, there is no known cure for Parkinson’s disease, although there are therapies that somewhat delay the regression of motor functions. Hence, if you have been diagnosed with PD, the least you can do is practice safety precautions and learn how to live with it, seeing as how it’s bound to affect various aspects of your life.
Coping with Parkinson’s Disease
The disease is currently the second most common neurodegenerative disease known to man. Scientists believe Parkinson’s disease is mostly triggered by various environmental factors and a person’s genetic susceptibility. As such, it can’t be considered preventable, more so since the exact causes are unknown.
The upside is that PD progresses slowly. Hence, you can still do something to plan for its long-term effects and make sure you, or anyone you know who’s suffering from it for that matter, can cope with it.
Keep in mind that PD affects a person’s mobility so PD-related tripping and other similar episodes should be expected. With that said, you will want to make your home safer in order to lower the risk of accidents or injuries.
Making Your Home Parkinson’s Disease “Friendly”
They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and since there is no known cure for Parkinson’s disease, the next best thing you can do is make your home PD-friendly. Here are some ways to upgrade your home to help prevent falls and accidents:
Around the house
- Make sure the floors in your house have non-skid surfaces.
- Ensure that furniture pieces are sturdy and secure with no sharp edges.
- Electrical cords or anything that may cause tripping should be kept out of the way.
- Pathways inside the house must be wide and easily accessible.
- The house, especially its dark corners, must be well-illuminated.
- Do away with rugs and clutter that may cause tripping and falls.
In the kitchen
- Commonly used items should be kept in an easily accessible drawer that will not require you to bend down.
- Use handles instead of knobs on your cabinets to make it easier to open and close the cabinet doors.
- Invest in specially designed utensils and cutlery that are easier to hold so that you can still enjoy mealtimes despite tremors.
- If possible, place cooked food in bowls since it will be easier for you to scoop the food out rather than scrape it off a plate.
In the bedroom
- The bedroom is a place to relax, so make sure to create a relaxing environment that’s free from unnecessary noises.
- Ensure that lighting is easily accessible (place touch lamps if necessary) to make it easier to move around. At the same time, keep the room well-lit.
- Install handrails or bed poles to make rolling and getting up from the bed easier.
- Rather than a trek to the bathroom in the middle of the night, make sure that there’s a bedside commode available for late-night use.
In the bathroom
- Install grab bars where needed – in the tub, near the toilet, inside the shower.
- Keep throw rugs out of the bathroom as these can cause tripping.
- Place a bench with back support in the tub or shower so you will not have to spend too much time on your feet while taking a bath.
- Toilet seats must be elevated and equipped with armrests.
As an additional safety tip, a first aid kit must always be well-stocked and easily accessible together with a list of emergency hotlines.