Exercise & Parkinson’s Disease

Thank you to Galen Friesen, Colorado State University Student and Covell Care intern for providing this guest blog post!

Parkinson’s disease has been shown to affect a wide range of aspects of life. Although commonly associated with loss of physical functioning, PD also effects cognitive functioning, sleep quality, mood, and anxiety and fatigue levels. Of the non-motor symptoms, cognitive impairments are the most prevalent, with 83% of patients developing dementia after 20 years [1]. Non-motor symptoms can greatly affect overall quality of life, but are difficult to treat in patients with PD as antidepressant medication can worsen motor symptoms in some instances [2]. Exercise has been shown to aid non motor symptoms by improving cognitive functioning in individuals diagnosed with PD.

Exercise is well-known to improve agility, power, and mobility. This fact still holds true for those affected by Parkinson’s Disease. Exercise has been shown to slow the loss of coordination, posture, and balance associated with PD. Along with this, exercise also helps to protect the brain and nerves- acute exercise causes the release of Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), a protein that stimulates growth of nerves and works to maintain existing neuronal pathways [3].

According to the Parkinson’s Outcome Project, individuals who start exercising early at a minimum of 2.5 hours per week experienced a slower decline in quality of life than those who started later. Biking, non-contact boxing, Tai Chi, yoga, and weight training are all acceptable and beneficial modalities of exercise for individuals with PD.

Talking to your primary healthcare provider or physical therapist is a great way to take first steps towards adopting a new exercise routine. There are also many new boxing and dance classes being specifically created for individuals with PD, Contact the Parkinson’s Foundation’s toll-free Helpline at 1-800-4PD-INFO (473-4636) or helpline@parkinson.org to find one near you. Or contact Covell Care & Rehabilitation at (970) 204-4331 to find out how to get an exercise program going.

[1]The Effects of Exercise on Balance in Persons with… : Journal of Neurologic Physical Therapy. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://journals.lww.com/jnpt/Fulltext/2009/03000/The_Effects_of_Exercise_on_Balance_in_Persons_with.3.aspx
[2]Cruise, K. E., Bucks, R. S., Loftus, A. M., Newton, R. U., Pegoraro, R., & Thomas, M. G. (2010, December 03). Exercise and Parkinson’s: Benefits for cognition and quality of life. Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1600-0404.2010.01338.x

[3] Tajiri, Yasuhara, Shingo, Kondo, Yuan, Kadota, . . . Date. (2010). Exercise exerts neuroprotective effects on Parkinson’s disease model of rats. Brain Research., 1310, 200-207. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19900418
[4]Exercise. (2018, June 14). Retrieved from https://www.parkinson.org/Understanding-Parkinsons/Treatment/Exercise

Dementia Awareness

Blog provided by JaNae Gregg, University of Northern Colorado Student and Covell Care Intern.

In America, one in ten people over the age of sixty five has Alzheimer’s dementia.  Two thirds of these people are women. In 2000, 4 million people in America were diagnosed with dementia.  By 2012, nearly 4.5 million people were diagnosed with this disease. With a rapid increase of people diagnosed with dementia it is important to notice the early signs and receive treatment.

Early signs of dementia include: Increased confusion, memory problems, reduced concentration, personality or behavior changes, apathy, and loss of ability to do everyday tasks. These symptoms can come on suddenly or gradually. Unfortunately, these signs can often be mistaken or overlooked. If you or someone you know is showing any of these signs it is important to seek a doctor and get a medical diagnoses.

If you are caring for a patient of dementia it is important to keep a positive mindset, remember body language and attitude communicate your feelings more than words do! Dementia can be tough for both the patient and the caregiver, so it is important to be clear when relying messages to the patient and to also ask clear and answerable questions.  Conducting activities are easier when performed in steps, this helps instruct the patient with dementia and to avoid frustration for the caregiver.

This being said, frustrations will still occur.  When the going gets tough for the dementia
patient try changing the subject or even the environment.  It is important to remember to connect with the person on a feelings level. This means when making suggestions state what feeling you are sensing from them.  This could be done by saying, “I know you are feeling sad today, maybe a walk would make you feel better?” Doing this will help make a connection and improve communication.  Being diagnosed or having someone you care for be diagnosed with dementia is not easy, catching warning signs early could help with treatment and the caregiving process.

Preventing Falls

Blog provided by JaNae Gregg, University of Northern Colorado Student and Covell Care Intern.

Top 5 Ways to Prevent Falls

Aging into later life can bring many concerns, one of the biggest concerns with aging is falling.  The CDC estimates that 1 in 3 seniors will fall at least once a year. One of the biggest predictors of having a fall is already having a previous fall.  This can be worrisome not only for the person involved, but also the families. To prevent something as serious as a fall from happening the first time, it is important to review 5 steps that have been proven to help prevent falls.

One of the first steps in preventing a fall is reviewing medications, certain medications have been linked to increasing falls in seniors.  Such medications include: sedatives and tranquilizers, antipsychotics, nighttime drugs, over-the-counter medication, medications that cause drowsiness.  If these medications are taken, it is important to review them with a doctor to assess the amount of risk of falling involved.

Checking blood pressure while sitting and standing is the second important step in fall prevention.  A substantial drop in blood pressure when a person stands up or changes position is known as postural.  Drops in blood pressure is common for older adults, especially for those who are taking medicine to lower blood pressure.  Blood pressure treatment has in fact been linked to some of the most serious falls in older adults.

The third step in preventing a fall involves a balance evaluation.  If you or someone who know has noticed difficulty with walking or standing should seek an evaluation by a doctor.  These evaluations are covered by Medicare and can be very useful in preventing a fall from occuring. Strength and balance exercises may be recommended to insure this.  Along with these exercises, taking a daily walk can be very helpful in improving balance.

A home safety assessment may be one of the most important parts to preventing a fall.  A set up of a home and placement of furniture and other household items can easily set a person up for a bad fall.  Having a home healthcare agency to have an Occupational Therapist come and evaluate the home for possible falls is an easy way to prevent something serious from happening.  

The final step in fall prevent consists of getting enough Vitamin D.  Taking 1,000 IU per day will help insure that a person is getting the recommended amount of Vitamin D.  A deficiency in Vitamin D can lead to fragile bones and may cause a fall.

UV Safety Month – What you can do to prevent sunburn!

Skin is the body’s largest organ and skin cancer is the most diagnosed form of cancer in the United States. During UV Safety Month we want to remind Coloradans on some sun damage facts and tips. Please share this with you network, regardless of the state they live in. Skin cancer can happen anywhere!

  1. Exposure to the sun can cause heat exhaustion, dehydration, sunburn, skin cancer and wrinkles.
  2. Wear proper clothing when possible, i.e. long-sleeved shirts, pants.
  3. Remember to protect your head and eyes by wearing hats and sunglasses.
  4. Never stare at the sun!
  5. Stay in the shade when possible.
  6. Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
  7. Wear SPF 30 sunscreen and apply multiple times per day (at least every 2 hours).
  8. Don’t forget to put sunscreen on your ears, back of neck, back of knees and under nose & chin.
  9. Reflective surfaces such as windows, water and snow can increase your chances of sunburn.
  10. UV rays are strongest between 10AM and 4pm. So try to avoid those times.
  11. Keep track of UV intensity scales so you know how to plan your day.

Stay safe and enjoy your summer!

 

Trying Natural Alternatives: Acupuncture

Blog provided by JaNae Gregg, University of Northern Colorado Student and Covell Care Intern.

Keeping our bodies filled with energy and balance are two important keys to a healthy lifestyle.  Acupuncture is a healthy and natural way to cure physical or mental ailments.  This practice first began more 2,500 years ago in China and since has been used to diagnose, treat, and improve general health.  The main effectiveness of acupuncture comes from modifying the flow of energy in the body.

When acupuncture is performed, the patients can either lay face up or face down (depending on which points need to be used).  Then a single use disposable needle is inserted.  When the needle is inserted it can cause a sting or tingling sensation at first, then the needle remains there for five to thirty minutes.  While the needle remains in place the patient may feel a dull ache, but the treatment is relatively painless.   By placing the needles into certain points it brings the energy flow back into proper balance.

The best part of acupuncture is that it is all natural!  There are little to none side effects, it can be combined with other treatments, it can control various types of pain, and helps patients stay off medication.  Acute problems can be cured from eight to twelve sessions, while chronic may take one to two sessions a month for several months.

There are many misconceptions about natural remedies, but medications, surgeries, or other treatments haven’t worked for you, then give acupuncture a chance.  It has been known to not only cure illnesses, but to also prevent future medical problems from arising.  Using acupuncture can be the start of a new way to healthier and natural lifestyle.

The Benefits of Acupuncture

  1. Muscle spasms and pain
  2. Chronic back problems and pain
  3. Headaches and migraines
  4. Neck pain
  5. Osteoarthritis
  6. Knee pain
  7. Allergies
  8. Digestive problems
  9. Mood and depression
  10. Sleep problems
  11. High and low blood pressure
  12. Nausea
  13. Reduce risk of stroke
  14. Facial pain
  15. Vascular dementia