The Most Useful Parkinson’s Aids (That You May Not Have Thought Of)
At ElWell, we’re committed to giving you useful information that you may not have come across elsewhere. Nancy, our physiotherapist, works closely with a number of clients living with Parkinson’s disease, and has helped to write this article on useful Parkinson’s aids.
Why is this important? Well, 1 in 37 people alive today will be diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in their lifetime. A progressive disease, symptoms including tremors, stiffness, slowness (also known as bradykinesia) and balance problems get worse over time.
That’s because it affects nerve cells in the brand that produce dopamine. This neurotransmitter’s role is to relay messages that plan and control body movement and when it stops working, it affects our motor skills.
Living well with Parkinson’s disease is possible – acknowledging it, engaging with others who are going through the same and seeking out the right treatments and useful products is key.
So with that in mind, here’s our selection of Parkinson’s living aids. If you’ve got any feedback, please get in touch and let us know!
- Easy On Clothing
- Best Shoes For Parkinson’s Patients
- Adaptive Utensils
- Parkinson’s And Sleep
- Accessible Tech
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Easy On Clothing
The symptoms described above make the everyday task of getting dressed more difficult for someone living with Parkinson’s disease – whether they’re putting clothes on solo or with assistance.
That’s why we love The Able Label. This stylish small business was started with the aim of making self dressing easier.
The founder Katie was inspired to quit her job as a fashion buyer after seeing her grandmother, who had Parkinson’s, struggle to get dressed easily. The result is great looking accessible clothing that people would love to wear and also find easy to live with.
Catering for men and women, there’s a huge selection of adaptive clothing and accessories. Here’s some of the products we love, all of which are eligible for VAT exemption.
These chinos look super smart – the adaptation is a velcro fly (vs button fly). Not only is this easier to undo and do up when getting dressed, it helps when they go to the toilet – there’s less time fussing with the fly when standing up which can impact balance.
Who doesn’t love a pop of floral?! This beautiful blouse has buttons for display only, with hidden velcro fastenings at the front and cuffs.
A velcro front fastening bra is ideal for women who have less hand dexterity but still have enough control to do it up (or a carer to help them). And with bladder incontinence a problem for some people with Parkinson’s, there’s also absorbent briefs for men and women which as well as more than doing the job, also look nice!
You’re not dressed without a good pair of shoes, but finding easy on shoes isn’t always easy. Which is why we’re so excited to have discovered Friendly Shoes.
Created by an occupational therapist, these smart trainers for men and women have wide side or back zips so the shoe essentially opens up and the foot can slide in.
Lots of people with Parkinson’s resort to backless slippers at home because they’re easy to put on – but they’re a huge falls risk. As well as safety, Friendly Shoes offers:
- Comfort: there’s a memory foam insole for support and even pressure distribution, plus it’s removable if your loved one wears orthotics)
- Wide fit: An E width fitting and deep toe box means they are good for people with wider or swollen feet.
- Lightweight: You’ll be amazed at how light these shoes are, which really helps people with Parkinson’s to lift their feet instead of shuffling.
- A good looking shoe: As you can see from our faves below, there’s a real selection of colours and styles.
- VAT exemption for anyone who is eligible (the prices below are inclusive of VAT).
The roomiest of all the styles thanks to an extra elastic tab at the top. Made from fly knit and lined with lycra, these comfy shoes can be worn easily in or outdoors and open up super wide down the side so you can see all the way to the tip. £71.99
Similar to the Force, there’s a side zip but the style also comes with laces. Set the tension the first wear and then forget about the laces and just use the zip for easy on and off. £83.99
This one has a back zip which is very discreet. Available in mid and low top, the mid top offers men and women the most ankle stability. From £84.99
From the bedroom to the kitchen now! Tremors can take the joy out of mealtimes, but there’s some great tips and Parkinson’s aids for eating below.
The extra weight in this cutlery set gives more control to the person who’s eating and the cushioned handles are much easier to grip than the thin lines of standard cutlery.
We also really like these ones as they bend, making them easier to eat from and there’s two self stabilizing spoon sizes – the bigger surface area on a soup spoon could make mealtimes more enjoyable.
Another tip when using these adaptive eating utensils is to swap hands every so often (if the dexterity is there in both hands).
Who doesn’t love a hot drink? If you’re considering a hot water dispenser vs kettle, we’re here to help – it’s the former for us. That’s because it’s typically safer.
There’s no picking up a boiling and heavy kettle and it’s easy to keep clean with a limescale filter. Just pop the cup under the tap, press the button and go. A Parkinson’s aid that will good in the kitchen!
This is one of those inventions that takes you by surprise and you wonder how you lived without it! You might think it’s magic but it’s actually physics with this cup that never spills.
Tremors and reduced movement mean that walking with a hot drink, bowl of soup or even cereal becomes harder. This simple hanging base holds the item and lets your loved one walk without any spills. A really useful gift for Parkinson’s patients that instills confidence.
Independence and dignity is so important when it comes to eating and drinking, and any equipment that helps to counteract Parkinson’s tremors is a winner. That’s why we love the SafeSip.
This reusable drinks cover means your loved one can continue to use their usual cups and mugs. With the Safe Sip, the silicone cover slots over the top of the drinking vessel, and a straw can be used in the middle. Voila, no spills! 100% BPA free, it is dishwasher, freezer and microwave safe and available in muted and more colourful hues.
Being unable to control movements can mean that getting the cutlery to the mouth is a struggle. A tip is to use a free standing mirror – place it on the table so your loved one can see what they’re doing and it should be some help. Meaning they can continue to feed themselves and feel more independent.
Staying hydrated is so important – a lack of water can reduce cognitive function and lower blood pressure. Another drinking solution is using a camel pack style system for hydration.
You might be more familiar with cyclists wearing these on their backs, but they can rest on the table and the long flexible straw can be sucked on as and when needed. Plus you get more liquid here than a cup so it helps your relative monitor their fluid intake.
Parkinson’s And Sleep
There’s two types of Parkinson’s aids to cover here – getting in and out of bed safely, and winding down for sleep.
Cotton PJs and cotton sheets can be hard to move in, so some people swear by silk or satin pyjamas or sheets (not both together as it can be too slippy and be a fall risk.
These sheets from respected brand NRS have a satin panel in the middle, so the cotton on the edge provides some friction too to prevent falls.
Walking and balance problems can increase risk of falls, and this is especially true at night if your loved one gets up too quickly to go to the bathroom.
Plug in motion sensor lights can guide the way to the bathroom without casting light at other times of the night. They’re a cheap way to improve safety at home.
When people struggle to get in and out of bed, they often come up with their own routines – which aren’t always the safest. Bed levers are a cost-effective safety solution, helping with balance, rolling over or extra leverage to push up onto.
The bed lever should be positioned a third of the way down the bed. To get in to bed, your parent should get a firm hold on the bed lever, sit down next to it on the bed and move their legs up. To get out, it’s just the opposite.
For extra security, we really like this free standing Parnell bed lever.
Say night night to insomnia and restlessness with this mood light which also plays white noise (you can use both functions together or turn one off). The soothing machine charges via USB and the lights also promote safety in the bedroom.
Anxiety can be common amongst people living with Parkinson’s, which can affect their sleep. A weighted blanket has a calming effect by grounding the body before and during sleep.
They come in different weights and it may be better to start with a lighter blanket, especially if your loved one finds rolling over in bed difficult. This option below has the weight (in this case beads) sewn into separate sections so it allows for even pressure distribution.
Both these items can help encourage a wind down routine before bed. Your relative could also try some mindfulness or breathing techniques to calm or putting their phone away an hour before bed and reading instead.
Using a computer can help your loved one stay connected, on top of admin (such as paying bills in online banking) and shopping. There’s lots of nifty tips and tricks you can set up on the computer to assist someone living with Parkinson’s. For example:
- Playing online games such as Scrabble and Cribbage. These brain games foster a sense of community and help engage cognition.
- Tremors can mean that you press a keyboard key too many times. Microsoft has an accessibility setting called FilterKeys which you can adjust the timeframe on so it doesn’t recognize repeated keystrokes.
There are also some great easy tech and inexpensive Parkinson’s aids to help your loved one stay connected.
A keyboard with larger keys can help someone with tremors continue using the computer. This computer keyboard attaches via USB, has large illuminated keys and a slight incline. There’s a good grip too so it doesn’t slide around.
Using the standard computer mouse can be really tricky for people with tremors. A trackball mouse gives more control – we like the Kensington Orbit Optical Trackball.
There’s better ergonomics, with less wrist and hand movement and the optical tracking technology delivers precise cursor control. Plus it can be used equally with the left or right hand.
We know that large buttons on a keyboard help – and the same is true for a phone. Geemarc make the gold standard in large button phones. This one is also hearing aid compatible with an amplified ring tone.
If you’re caring for someone with Parkinson’s then you’re likely on the hunt for useful gadgets and aids which can make life easier. We hope we’ve hit the nail on the head with this article, bringing you a selection of Parkinson’s aids that you may not have come across before.