WPC Roving Reporters: Day One Session Reports

20131001_183332The 3rd World Parkinson Congress includes three days of sessions discussing the latest in Parkinson’s science and care. During day two, PDF reporter and Research Advocate Ronnie Wanetick of Walnut Creek, CA, reported back on two sessions – one covering late stage Parkinson’s and another discussing cognitive symptoms of Parkinson’s.

Quality of Life and Comfort in the Late stages of Parkinson’s Disease
This session was jam-packed. All the seats were filled and loads of people chose to stand and watch, rather than miss the discussion.

The faculty explained that in advanced PD, people may struggle with the loss of being on their own, or conversely being on their own without a caregiver. A dedicated family caregiver may lose his or her original role in the relationship and faces both physical and emotional strain. Often, there are daily physical challenges which are difficult to manage. Financial hardships abound. Both the caregiver and the person with Parkinson’s know the disease is progressing, but may try to psychologically block this realization. In the worst case scenario, depression gets worse, and grief shadows all involved.

Medical coordination is key. There are medicines for dementia and hallucinations that can be used in late stage Parkinson’s, such as quetiapine (Seroquel®)and Clozapine, two mentioned by Dr. Janis Myasaki, of Canada. However these require weekly blood monitoring, which some physicians do not want to be involved in.

Sometimes a care facility may be the best alternative. Religion can offer much solace. Inviting friends to visit can help lessen isolation. Staying socially connected is very important. Careful rephrasing in different words is better accepted than repeated commands. Looking for some joy in every day is a major positive contribution. Resilience definitely serves its owners well.

Cognition & Parkinson’s Disease
Executive function includes multitasking and including all useful facts in decision-making. A decrease in vigilance may indicate a cognitive decline of some sort. Jumbled words, cognitive fluctuations, excessive sleepiness, and staring into space are all signs that should be heeded.

To help improve cognition, it is wise to do different mental activities or games each day. Vary your mental time. Play Suduko one day, and Words with Friends another. And remember – exercise! Each day is special and a gift to treasure.

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