It’s common for elderly people with Parkinson’s disease to eventually experience tremors or muscle stiffness. Over time, these symptoms can contribute to issues with balance, gait, and coordination, which can increase fall risks for seniors with this neurodegenerative condition. Below you’ll find five coordination exercises that can help your senior loved one with balance, stability, and dexterity.
Walking is a simple and effective way for older adults with Parkinson’s to target muscles and other soft tissues in the legs, thighs, and lower back that play a role in coordination, gait, stability, and balance. Make walking safe for your loved one by looking for clear, smooth pathways and going with him or her to provide support when needed.
Even a senior in the advanced stages of Parkinson’s can get the benefits of regular exercise, especially with the help of a trained professional caregiver. At-home care professionals can be a wonderful boon to seniors. Whether they require around-the-clock supervision or just need assistance with exercise and household tasks a few days a week, seniors can enjoy a higher quality of life with the help of trusted in-home caregivers.
Cycling is a good way for older adults with Parkinson’s to maintain their coordination abilities because it strengthens soft tissues and keeps joints in the lower body flexible. If regular cycling is too difficult for your loved one, consider a two-person (tandem) bicycle with fixed gears. In one study referenced in the online magazine WeLoveCycling, people with Parkinson’s riding tandem bikes three times a week for two months saw nearly a 40 percent reduction in their symptoms.
Yoga gently targets many of the muscles needed to build coordination and maintain balance and stability. Additionally, yoga has been shown to reduce issues with tremors and increase steadiness while walking. Yoga also helps with coordination, balance, and movement issues by encouraging proper posture and body alignment.
Because proper form and technique are important in yoga, look for a class in your loved one’s area that’s for seniors and beginners if he or she doesn’t have previous experience with the practice. Another option for elderly people with Parkinson’s is aquatic or water yoga, which is beneficial because it targets the same muscles with modified movements. The warmth of the water can also help with circulation.
If you usually help your loved one exercise but need a break now and then, consider having a professional caregiver take over for you. Philadelphia respite care professionals can assist seniors with a wide array of daily tasks, offering family caregivers the chance to focus on other personal responsibilities or take a break to prevent burnout. Whether it’s for a few hours a day or a few days a week, respite care is the perfect solution for family caregivers who are feeling overwhelmed.
4. Tai Chi
You may think a martial arts–based form of exercise like this would be inappropriate for seniors with Parkinson’s, but there’s evidence it can actually be just as beneficial as yoga because the movements practiced in tai chi are also slow and controlled. Plus, your loved one can rely on a partner for added support.
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed participants with Parkinson’s disease experienced nearly 70 percent fewer falls during the time they were taking tai chi classes. There’s also research suggesting tai chi could enhance coordination by:
- Increasing natural range of motion
- Boosting leg strength
- Gently stretching soft tissues around joints
5. Fine Motor Exercises
Along with mobility, coordination for seniors with Parkinson’s also involves everyday tasks, such as holding silverware, buttoning shirts, screwing jar lids on and off, applying makeup, and brushing hair. For this reason, the perfect complements to gross motor coordination exercises like the ones discussed above are fine motor exercises, such as:
- Wrist rotations
- Stress ball squeezes or pinches
- Finger flexes and thumb extensions
- Inner arm stretches
- Finger curls and touches
Seniors with Parkinson’s who need help exercising safely can benefit from the help of a trained professional caregiver. Philadelphia Home Care experts are available to provide high-quality care to seniors on an as-needed basis. From assistance with mobility and exercise to providing transportation to the doctor’s office and social events, there are a variety of ways professional caregivers can help your aging loved one continue to live independently. Reach out to us at Home Care Assistance if you need compassionate, professional home care for your loved one. Call one of our dedicated Care Managers today at (215) 645-4663 to learn about the high quality of our in-home Parkinson’s care services.