Living with Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinsons Disease | Fresh TherapeuticsThis week (10-17 April) is Parkinson’s Awareness Week. In Australia, Parkinson’s Australia is the national peak body and charity representing Australians living with Parkinson’s, and has a wide range of information sheets and advice available on their website: www.parkinsons.org.au

Parkinson’s disease is a disorder of the central nervous system (CNS), and it is one of many neurological conditions. In Parkinson’s disease, nerve cells in the brain degenerate. There is no known cause, however there are many theories, and it is generally thought that multiple factors are responsible. Increasing age, being male and head injuries may increase the risk, while genetics may also play a role. Individuals with Parkinson’s disease have insufficient levels of the chemical dopamine. This lack of dopamine means people can have difficulty controlling their movements and moving freely. Impact on other body systems can also occur, such as on sense of smell, thinking and mood.

According to Parkinson’s Australia approximately 70,000 Australians live with Parkinson’s disease. The average age of diagnosis is 65 years. However younger people can also be affected, and the term ‘young onset’ is used for those diagnosed between 21-40.

Scientists and researchers have not yet been able to find a cure for Parkinson’s disease. However, treatments are available to manage symptoms and assist people to live a fulfilling and productive life.

Each case of Parkinson’s disease is unique, with everyone exhibiting varying symptoms. For example, not all people get tremors and for some, the first symptom can be movement problems. Some of the main symptoms include:

  • tremor, or shaking
  • rigidity, or muscle stiffness
  • bradykinesia, or slowness of movement
  • freezing
  • stooped posture
  • shuffling gait

Parkinson’s disease can be disabling. However, there are many tools which can lead to better quality of life for those with Parkinson’s disease, and your local pharmacy can help.

With modern medicine, symptoms can be managed. The main aim of medicinal therapies is to increase the level of dopamine. As Parkinson’s disease affects each person differently it is important to individually tailor medicine regimens accordingly. As the disease progresses, and dopamine production is reduced, it is quite common for people to need their medicine regimes altered.

One of the key aspects of managing Parkinson’s disease is medicine management. Medicine must be taken at the correct time to allow for absorption time and the attainment of therapeutic levels. Factors such as diet also need to be considered when taking medicine. At Fresh Therapeutics our Pharmacists can assist you to gain the maximum benefit from the medicine, while keeping side effects to a minimum. Our pharmacists can help with advice and counselling – discussing what the medicine is for, what benefits should be expected, possible side effects and their management, drug interactions and how to keep an accurate record so information can be given to the doctor at each visit.  There are several medicines that can worsen the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease and our pharmacists can provide a list of the medicines to watch.

People with Parkinson’s Disease may have difficulty swallowing which makes oral medicines difficult to take. At Fresh Therapeutics we can compound most medicines into a liquid or other dosage form to achieve drug levels to help manage the disease.  We also stock Gloup a medication lubricant that makes taking tablets and medications a more pleasant and safer experience for the patient.

At Fresh Therapeutics we can also provide home delivery and medicine management services such as dose administration aids (DAAs. Fresh Therapeutics can also be a point of contact to reduce social isolation and depression which can be experienced in Parkinson’s disease.

Our pharmacists can also talk through other problems that impact on Parkinson’s disease such as constipation, depression and falls.  We provide the   Pharmaceutical Society of Australia’s Self Care Fact Cards on  Preventing falls, Constipation and Depression and we can help with detailed information on managing the costs of medicine.