Parkinson’s disease (PD) is classified as a movement disorder. However, this condition can also noticeably affect mood and emotions because of alterations in brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. These emotional changes are sometimes distressing for both seniors with this condition and their family caregivers. Let’s take a moment to discuss six of the ways Parkinson’s impacts a senior’s emotions.
1. DepressionAccording to Parkinsonsdisease.net, approximately 60 percent of people with Parkinson’s experience depression. Over time, lingering depression can affect mental and physical health, which may hasten difficulties with mobility and contribute to social isolation. Precautions you can take to reduce your senior loved one’s issues with depression include:
- Getting annual screenings for depression
- Discussing changes in mood with your loved one’s doctor
- Exploring complementary therapies that may minimize your loved one’s depression risk (e.g., music or art therapy, massage therapy, and relaxation techniques)
2. AnxietyAnxiety is a heightened sense of fear or nervousness, and it tends to be worse when seniors with PD are frustrated or confused. Increased anxiety usually goes away once the situation changes. However, some seniors with PD experience episodes of anxiety for no clear reason. If it’s severe enough, it may result in physical responses that could include:
- An increased heart rate
- A feeling of breathlessness
- Chest tightness
3. PsychosisAn inability to think realistically is referred to as psychosis. It’s sometimes associated with Parkinson’s dementia, which is more common in seniors 70 and over. Psychosis can impact emotions by causing difficulty with clear thinking or contributing to false beliefs about immediate family members or friends that aren’t based in reality. Medication adjustments and therapy may help. Aging in place can present a few unique challenges for older adults. Some only require part-time assistance with exercise or meal preparation, while others are living with serious illnesses and benefit more significantly from receiving live-in care. Henderson, NV, Home Care Assistance are leaders in the elderly in-home care industry for good reason. We tailor our care plans based on each senior’s individual needs, our caregivers continue to receive updated training in senior care as new developments arise, and we also offer comprehensive care for seniors with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Parkinson’s.
4. StressSome seniors with Parkinson’s are stressed because of their physical limitations. However, some may just be naturally predisposed to being affected by stress. When stress is combined with Parkinson’s, it could worsen symptoms or produce reactions such as more severe tremors. It could also contribute to speech and swallowing difficulties. Stress for seniors with PD may be reduced with:
- Forms of exercise that can be relaxing and calming, such as yoga and water-based activities
- A diet that includes tea, fatty fish, dark chocolate, beneficial spices like turmeric, and other foods and spices that naturally ease stress
- Careful planning of daily activities so your loved one knows what to expect
- Relaxation techniques that may include deep breathing or meditation
5. Mood SwingsSeniors with Parkinson’s sometimes experience unpredictable mood swings. These “swings” might involve sudden agitation or shifts from periods of depression and anxiety to times when they’re overly obsessed with details. Emotional shifts tend to be subtle during the early stages of PD and more noticeable in the later stages of the disease.
6. ApathyApathy is a general lack of interest in things, especially activities your loved one once found enjoyable. Believed to be related to reduced dopamine levels in the brain, Parkinson’s-related apathy can also result in general indifference or disinterest in certain individuals and/or activities. You may be able to minimize apathy by:
- Performing tasks and activities with your loved one
- Encouraging a normal sleep routine to avoid the fatigue that’s often coupled with apathy
- Suggesting exercises your loved one can do to boost energy
- Asking the doctor if your loved one may benefit from dopamine-enhancing medications