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How Parkinson’s Impacts Communication

By Home Care Assistance, 8:00 am on

Effective communication is vital for preserving current relationships and for establishing new ones. Seniors with Parkinson’s disease (PD) can have a hard time expressing themselves due to the impact that this illness has on basic, cognitive abilities. Following are several things that seniors with PD and their Vancouver home care professional should know about the effects that Parkinson’s disease may have on a person’s communication skills.

Each Person is Different

Much like all other aspects of Parkinson’s disease, the development of specific, communication-related symptoms is not guaranteed to occur at any set time or level of progression. Some people retain sharp cognitive skills and communication abilities for quite some time. Others can begin to struggle with formulating sentences or finding the right words very early on.

The Connection Between Language and Cognition

The connection between cognition and language along with the changes that occur in these areas are what make it difficult for people to think and speak quickly. Over time, it can become harder to manage a variety of tasks at one time, understand complex sentences or identify the words that best express the individual’s ideas, emotions or intentions. This becomes increasingly problematic as conversations rush forward and few pauses are taken to allow seniors with PD to catch up.

Facial Expressions and Gestures

Oral communication is only one form of communication. People also communicate through hand gestures, calculated silences, body language and facial expressions. The disconnect between cognitive thought and communication can manifest itself in these areas also. Thus, although a senior with PD might be happy or sad, these emotions may not register on the face or through the expected body language.

Dealing with Frustration

These changes can be very frustrating for seniors with PD who often want to actively participate in discussions but quickly find themselves becoming overwhelmed. This makes it important for family members, friends, and Parkinson’s caregivers to allow their loved ones adequate time to formulate thoughts and words. Purposefully working pauses into conversations and asking a senior to share their ideas is a great way to ensure that they do not feel rushed and that they stay involved. Conversations that move too rapidly can leave PD patients feeling excluded, frustrated or even depressed. Efforts to slow the conversations down and ask PD patients for input will make them feel both valued and appreciated.

If your loved one has Parkinson’s and you’re considering additional help to manage his or her care needs, reach out to Home Care Assistance. We are a leading provider of Parkinson’s care and offer flexible hourly schedules as well as live-in home care in Vancouver. Schedule a complimentary in-home consultation by calling a friendly Care Manager at 778-279-3634 today.