The Lockdown Experience for People with Parkinson’s and Carers
If you experienced increased Parkinson's symptoms during the lockdown, you might not have been alone.
Research from Lancaster University and Parkinson's UK shows that a third of people with Parkinson's exhibited marked increases in their symptoms.
The survey, which spoke to over 2,000 people with Parkinson's, found that over 25% of them experienced either sleep problems, anxiety, or increased tremor.
1 in 10 also reported an increase in hallucinations, which may occur due to a multitude of reasons that include not regulating dopamine medication properly.
What are the main problems?
It has been understood that stress can make the cardinal motor and non-motor symptoms of Parkinson's more pronounced.
"We think the increase in symptoms is a result of lots of factors—lack of access to health professionals, loss of established regimes for medication, physical exercise and other social activities and the general stress that this period is causing," said Professor Jane Simpson of Lancaster University who headed the study.
The survey also shed some light onto the biggest grievances during the lockdown including:
- The lack of access to opportunities to exercise
- Food insecurity over groceries, particularly if neighbours were not of help.
The survey also reveals the increased caring responsibilities for carers of people with Parkinson's and how they have also been negatively impacted.
The Experience of Carers
Nearly 70% of carers said they had taken on more caring responsibilities since the coronavirus restrictions started.
Caring during lockdown restrictions has negatively affected the physical and mental wellbeing of overworked, stressed carers.
This aspect is reflected by over a third of carers stating their physical health has deteriorated while a whopping 42% believe their mental health has been affected.
Depression and Anxiety in Parkinson's
A recent webinar from the Michael J. Fox Foundation, on Mood Changes, was released on June 18. Here were some key takeaways from the informative, hour-long presentation:
- Depression and anxiety can arise in response to life with Parkinson’s but can also be a symptom of the condition itself.
- Parkinson’s decreases brain chemicals that impact mood.
- Mood changes can worsen movement and non-movement symptoms — anxiety could bring out tremor or freezing,
and depression can interfere with your sleep.
- The symptoms of depression include a decreased interest in activities, sleeping too much or too little, changes in appetite, feelings of worthlessness and suicide.
- The symptoms of anxiety include worry that is difficult to reign in, restlessness, irritability, sudden-onset panic attacks and difficulty concentrating.
- Loved ones often are the first to see personality or behaviour changes, so consider checking in regularly.
- Depression and anxiety are medical conditions, just like diabetes or heart disease. Ask for help and treat them as you would any other serious health concern.
- Options for improving your mood include prescription medication, talk therapy, support groups or other social connections, physical exercise and meditation.
The most important takeaway, ultimately, is that you are not alone. Mood changes in Parkinson's are a common experience, so reach out for help today!
How did Parkinson's NZ provide support during the lockdown?
During the pandemic, our Parkinson's Nurses here in NZ improved communications with our clients through video conferencing platforms, telephone, or email.
Altogether, our Parkinson's Nurses made 2,659 calls to check in on our clients over videoconferencing platforms or the telephone. Our nurses also sent out 1,458 emails to our clients.
We also began a fortnightly email newsletter called Parkinson's at a Glance during the lockdown, in order to provide the latest updates regarding COVID-19 and Parkinson's. There have been 12 editions of the e-newsletter so far, amounting to over 45,500 email sends to date!
In this manner, reaching out has helped us try to ensure that people who normally receive face-to-face support continue to do so in new ways.
If you would like to share your lockdown experience, please get in touch with us on firstname.lastname@example.org
Get in Touch
If you’d like to contact our charity and avail of our free services, then give us a call on 04 801 8850 today!
If you’d like to show your support to the service we provide to people with Parkinson’s, then please make a donation.
To find out whom to contact and what services are available in your area, head over to Regional Support.