Senior Health: Alternative Treatments for Parkinson’s

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Non-Medical Ways to Treat Parkinson’s Disease

By Carolina Orosa, 9:00 am on

Parkinson’s disease is a complex condition with symptoms that can be treated with a wide range of remedies. While medication can control tremors and other common symptoms of PD, many seniors prefer to supplement their treatment with non-medical methods. Sometimes referred to as “alternative treatments,” such remedies tend to pose little or no risk of side effects. Here are a few of the most common non-medical treatments for PD, brought to you by the Vancouver Parkinson’s care professionals at Home Care Assistance.

Massage Therapy

Parkinson’s often results in difficulty moving due to stiffened muscles. Massage therapy relaxes tense muscles in the arms, legs, upper body, neck, thighs and calves to help with natural movements. A recent study on PD patients undergoing massage therapy found that many of them experienced improved daily functioning and reduced stress levels after five weeks of therapy.

Muscle Strengthening Exercises

Maintaining muscle strength can help seniors with Parkinson’s retain balance as the condition progresses, and muscle strengthening exercises are highly adaptable to individual capabilities. Exercises that tend to be effective for elderly with PD include:

  • Modified aerobics (or water aerobics as a safer alternative)
  • Exaggerated facial muscles (to help with chewing and speaking)
  • Bending and stretching (or modified variations performed while sitting)

Acupuncture

Acupuncture involves the careful insertion of sterilized needles into various parts of the body. It’s believed that stimulating certain muscle groups can reduce pain and discomfort often associated with movement. Practitioners of the classic Chinese style of acupuncture believe that it also helps seniors achieve an internal balance.

Yoga and Tai chi

Yoga and tai chi are ancient practices designed to improve muscle strength, flexibility and balance. Movements, which tend to be more controlled than traditional exercises, can be tailored to match the capabilities of seniors with Parkinson’s.

Keep in mind not all health insurance covers treatments considered “alternative.” However, services performed by a licensed physical therapist, including strengthening exercises and some forms of massage therapy, tend to be covered. Check with your loved one’s doctor before supplementing his or her current medical treatments with non-medical remedies.

Are you the primary caregiver for an aging parent or grandparent with Parkinson’s? Although meeting his or her needs can feel challenging, you don’t have to do it alone. Vancouver Home Care Assistance can help. Our dedicated caregivers can provide live-in, hourly, or respite home care and can help with everything from running errands and cooking to providing physical assistance and emotional support for your loved one. For more information, call a friendly Case Manager at 778-279-3634 today.