13 ways to decrease swallowing problems in Parkinson’s disease

Many people with Parkinson's disease experience problems with swallowing food, liquid and medications

Many people with Parkinson’s disease experience problems with swallowing food, liquid and medications

People with Parkinson’s disease may notice changes with swallowing, especially as the disease progresses. Speech-language pathologists evaluate swallowing (in addition to speech and communication skills) and provide treatment and suggestions to facilitate swallowing.

Here is some information you may find helpful.

Basic swallowing suggestions

  1. Sit upright. Bring the liquid or solid up to mouth; don’t bend your head down to the table.
  2. Start meals by taking small sip of water to moisten mouth.
  3. Take smaller bites and small sips.
  4. Swallow everything in your mouth prior to the next bite or sip.
  5. Avoid tipping head back when swallowing.
  6. Alternate swallows of liquids and solids.
  7. Eat and drink more slowly.
  8. Swallow again or swallow twice if needed.
  9. Do not try to talk and swallow at the same time.
  10. Time your medication to get maximum benefit during meals.
  11. Keep auditory and visual distractions (such as the radio, TV, conversations, etc.) to a minimum during meals.
  12. Sit upright for at least 30 minutes after eating to help prevent heartburn/reflux.
  13. Maintain good oral hygiene. Brush teeth after every meal.

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20 ways to fight fatigue in Parkinson’s disease

Parkinsons_fatigueAbout two-thirds of people with Parkinson’s disease report that they feel fatigued or tired. Here are several suggestions for combating fatigue. Try one or several, depending upon your symptoms.

  1. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep.
  2. Ask your bed partner if you snore. You could have sleep apnea.
  3. Develop good sleep habits by going to bed and waking up at about the same time every day.
  4. Minimize bright screens (TV, iPads, cell phones, etc.) within 1-2 hours of going to bed.
  5. If you are getting up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, don’t drink water before bed. Continue reading

8 more therapies and treatments for Parkinson’s

Parkinson's disease series

More_Parkinson_treatmentsMost neurologists treat people who have Parkinson’s disease with a medication called carbidopa/levodopa or Sinemet, as it is known by its brand name. We also offer several new FDA-approved therapies, surgery and other therapies that can greatly improve the quality of a patient’s life.

Recommendations will depend upon the course of the disease, the patient’s medical history and the neurologist’s estimation of which option is best for this particular patient.

New FDA-approved Parkinson’s therapies

Neurologists typically use these therapies in more advanced Parkinson’s disease or in special circumstances. Both therapies aim to increase “on” time, while reducing “off” time. “On” time refers to periods when Parkinson’s symptoms are adequately controlled. “Off” time refers to periods of the day when the medication is not working well, making symptoms worse.  Continue reading

Best medications for Parkinson’s

Senior women exercisingAccording to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, approximately 7 to 10 million people live with Parkinson’s disease. Naturally, patients and families want to learn more about the best medications and treatments for this life-changing illness. This article concerns medications that may help or control the poor motor symptoms associated with Parkinson’s. These symptoms can include tremor, slow movement, stiffness, difficulty with gait and posture, and a feeling of weakness.

Best medicine: Exercise

It is a fact that the patients who exercise do so much better than those who don’t. Recent research has suggested that even simple daily activities, such as routine housework, can provide benefit in motor symptoms. This should be paired with exercise, as well.

I believe that all patients with Parkinson’s disease should be involved in scheduled, safe exercise. It’s as good as any medication we can provide.  Continue reading

For Parkinson’s: Everyday activity better than strenuous exercise

Woman doing laundryHere’s my latest prescription for Parkinson’s: Do the dishes, fold laundry, work in your garden and walk around your neighborhood.

Patients with Parkinson’s disease are often told to engage in (vigorous) exercise, but when my colleagues and I studied 48 individuals with Parkinson’s we found that everyday activities were much more effective than occasional strenuous exercise. We discovered that it is not so much the exercise but the routine activities from daily living that protect motor skills.

Exercise is fine, but there are many barriers to exercising. These include transportation, expense and time commitment. Furthermore, people typically exercise for only a short time and a few times per week.  Continue reading

Lewy body dementia

The Alzheimer’s disease and dementia series

Michigan Alzheimer's Disease Center has established support groups for people with Lewy body dementia and their caregivers.

In partnership with a caregiver, Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Center is offering support groups for people with Lewy body dementia and their caregivers.

Lewy body dementia (LBD) is the second most common form of degenerative dementia in the United States. LBD affects an estimated 1.4 million Americans. The symptoms of LBD are often mistaken for more well-known diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. They are so similar that only 30-50% of all LBD cases are accurately diagnosed.

What makes LBD different? 

The presence of Lewy bodies—abnormal deposits of the protein alpha-synuclein that build up in the brain—distinguish LBD from other dementias. The Lewy bodies are tiny spherical structures that develop inside nerve cells. Their presence leads to the degeneration of brain tissue.  Continue reading