20 April 2017
April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month – By Interchange Australia Consultant, Wendy Hughes
April is the month for all of us to be more aware about Parkinson’s Disease which affects approximately 70,000 Australians.
Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological condition, which is characterised by both motor (movement) and non-motor symptoms. While it cannot be cured, treatment can help this chronic condition which may last for years or be lifelong.
It is important to remember that each case of Parkinson’s is unique to the individual so their treatment and care varies considerably. It is estimated that 50% of people with Parkinson’s will develop changes in speech, mainly due to coordination issues and reduced activity of the muscles involved in speech mechanism. It is vital to allow the person with Parkinson’s adequate time to respond when engaged in conversation. Often, without realising, partners, family members or carers respond on behalf of the person with Parkinson’s causing stress and frustration.
Communication involves both verbal (speech) and non-verbal skills (facial expression, body language and writing). At Interchange Australia we all know communication is an integral part of our services and strive to make it a positive experience. People with Parkinson’s need knowledge, patience and understanding from family members, and care and health professionals. Strategies are often simple and easily used such as reminding the person who is ‘stuttering’ to concentrate on the key word and give them time to do this. Some common effects on speech with Parkinson’s may include:
- Reduced volume (Microphonia)
- Festination (which is similar to stuttering)
- Slurred speech (Dysarthria)
- Rapid or slow speech pattern
At Interchange Australia, we have a team of qualified staff who are experienced in providing care and support services to people with various needs. We are committed to providing a high standard of care guided by our principles of communication, adaptability, reliability, empathy and safety. These principles guide our actions to make decisions with the health, wellbeing, and safety of our clients, carers and staff being paramount. Our philosophy is to focus on the person to enable that person to live a quality life.