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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

My Grandmother has Parkinson's and I have decided to be her carer

Hello Gary,
I have decided to be my grandmothers carer, she has recently been diagnosed with Parkinson's, and has also had a brain clot removed and has type 2 diabetes. She is only 70 years and has always looked after herself never drank or smoked and has always been active. She is quite non responsive, does not have the tremor and is now walking with assistance. I have been walking her and doing exercises, she has recently been taken off Panadol as she was receiving it 8 times per day and drowsy and tired. Is there anything I should be doing by way of recovery and exercises, or can you suggest or advise alternative activities for her, or dietary supplement to prevent her tiredness? She is very keen to get active again but is always tired. Can you help? We were thinking of trying the acai berry drink, do you know of any other alternatives for energy boosting? I look forward to any suggestions you have regarding this, kind regards, "S"

Further information from "S" - She is currently on Sinemet and simvastatin recently taken off Panadol, but is still quite sleepy maybe due to the fact she is unstimulated, and sits for long periods of time at once.
Gary Moller comments:
"S"; Please discuss this with your Grandmother's doctor and heed the advice given.

Sinemet is prescribed to reduce the tremor associated with Parkinsons and Simvastatin is prescribed to lower cholesterol. While I can understand the need for Sinemet, I do wonder about the merits of prescribing a cholesterol lowering drug even though she has had a brain clot.

The problem with any drug is the side effects which can be worse than the disease in many cases, or can lead to complications, especially in the elderly and/or debilitated individual. Statins can cause fatigue, muscle weakness, joint and muscle pain, as well as "brain fog". Cholesterol, in combination with cholecalciferol (vitamin D) is esssential for life. It also happens to be the precursor to hormones, including the sex hormones which gives us the drive and energy for life. And it just so happens that cholesterol lowering drugs also reduce the uptake of critically important fat soluble vitamins - A, D, E and K. Without these in large quantities an already debilitated person will fail to thrive. These are essential for healthy brain function as well as other things like strong bones, strong muscles and resistance to disease.

If raised cholesterol is a problem, there are good alternatives for healthy management including:
  • Taking vitamins E and C and a broad spectrum anti oxidant to mop up any harmful free radicals from oxidising cholesterol before it can do harm to healthy tissue, including arteries. These also thin the blood.
  • Increasing her intake of healthy Omega 3 oils, including falx oil, evening primrose oil and fish oil. These help create a healthy cholesterol profile in the body and thin the blood so that it flows better and is less likely to clot. These oils are beneficial for the brain.
  • Taking Lysine amino acid daily along with vitamin C. This combination has been patented by the Linus Pauling Institute as a treatment for heart disease.
For robust health, including a good brain, strong bones and muscles and resistance to disease, your Grandmother needs large amounts of vitamin D. The best way for her to get vitamin D is to put her out in the midday sun, exposing her thighs and body. In most cases, just 10 minutes per side is ample time - just enough to go slightly pink. On days she does not get sun on her body, give her a quality vitamin D supplement. Free range eggs, liver and whole raw milk (if you can get it) are excellent sources of the fat soluble vitamins. Fish heads and eyes are one of nature's richest sources of vitamin A. All of these supplements are available from my internet store. Call me if you need help with narrowing the choice of product.

You might want to start the day with a Super Smoothie for breakfast - exactly as the athletes would have. Make sure there are plenty of dark berries in it. Berries like blue berries and blackberries. Treat your mother as if she were an athlete in serious training.

With regards to diabetes, you need to ensure that her condition is extremely well managed beginning with monitoring her blood sugar several times a day and keeping a diary record. She should be on a diet that is natural and without processed fats, sugars and oils and definitely no flavouring, colourings and preservatives. Please read these articles about diabetes. Give her foods that are wholesome and rich in anti oxidants. It is too easy to feed a diabetic up on junk food that ultimately does much harm over the long term.

Brains, like any organ in the body, shrivel will lack of use. On the other hand, they strengthen with use. Your Grandmother needs constant stimulation. But the same principles of conditioning apply to the brain as they do to muscles: Weak muscles must be exercised gently at first with ample rest in between and good nutrition. As the brain becomes used to the stimulation, you increase the intensity and the duration. So start gently because she is recovering from a brain injury and has Parkinson's to cope with and age is not on her side. The goal is to prevent further deterioration with any improvements being a welcome bonus, if you get any.

Get her to do daily brain exercises, like cross word puzzles, chequers, scrabble, card games like Snap. I am particularly keen on the "Memory Card Game". Start with simple brain exercises and go from there. Get her outdoors into parks, the beach, shopping malls, theatre and so on as much as possible. Socialise. Stimulate, stimulate and stimulate.

There is a tendency to develop the Parkinsonian Shuffle - small jerky movements affecting walking in particular. Have your Grandmother practice marching, try using a drumbeat, a metronome or music with a good beat for her to follow. Each time she falls into a shuffle, have her stop and always restart the walking by a distinct instruction that has her stop, stand up straight and then step forwards with her left foot and right hand. Ballroom dancing with its rhythm and music may be perfect for her. Whatever you do, keep it simple and repetitive.

I am especially keen on doing long sweeping movements in a chest deep swimming pool. This helps get rid of the short jerking movements that are characteristic of Parkinsons. You will need to visually demonstrate the movements. Keep them long and flowing. If she begins to jerk and shuffle, stop the action, get back into position and then resume the movement. Be patient.

At all times, take care that she does not slip or trip, since risk of a fall is high. The exercises described will reduce her risk of a catastrophic fall. Take care.

Finally, "S", you must not neglect your own needs. The needs of a carer are often overlooked with the consequence that there are exceptionally high rates of depression, alcoholism, exhaustion and financial distress. Plan for regular breaks. Arrange for others to take over at regular intervals. Do not be shy in asking other family for help, including helping with the bills. Make sure that you have others who you can turn to for help. People you trust who you can talk with. Do not get isolated and worn down. Seek out helping services in your area and make full use of them. Ensure that you get everything, including financial and other support from Government and non-Government agencies.

All the best and please let us know how you get on.

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