Weight Loss Linked to Worse Outcomes in Parkinson’s Patients, Study Shows

By Patricia Inacio, PhD

Weight loss in Parkinson’s disease patients increases the risks for dementia and dependency care, and reduces patients’ life expectancy, according to a new study.

These findings suggest that monitoring weight and timely dietary interventions to counteract weight loss may significantly improve the outcome of Parkinson’s disease patients.

The study, “Early weight loss in parkinsonism predicts poor outcomes: Evidence from an incident cohort study,” was published in the journal Neurology.

Researchers at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland followed 515 participants – 187 with Parkinson’s disease, 88 with the so-called atypical parkinsonism, and 240 controls – for a median of five years. During this period they registered patients’ weight and evaluated how weight variations influenced disease outcomes.

Individuals with atypical parkinsonism are characterized by some of the signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease – such as tremor, slowness, and walking problems – without having a Parkinson’s disease diagnosis.

“Weight loss is a common problem in Parkinson’s but it wasn’t clear before we did this how common it was, mainly because of biases in previous studies, or what the consequences were of weight loss. Our hypothesis was that people who are losing weight were going to have adverse outcomes,” Dr. Angus Macleod, the study’s lead author, said in a press release.

The results showed that patients with Parkinson’s disease and parkinsonism have, from early on, lower body weights compared to those without the disease, or controls. Further analysis also showed that weight loss occurring within one year of diagnosis was associated with a higher risk of dependency (patients are no longer able to perform daily activities), dementia, and death.

“Our finding that those who lose weight have poorer outcomes is important because reversing weight loss may therefore improve outcomes,” Macleod said. “Therefore, it is vital that further research investigate whether e.g. high calorie diets will improve outcomes in people with Parkinson’s who lose weight.”

“While other studies have demonstrated that weight loss is common in Parkinson’s, this is the first to consider the impact this symptom may have,” said Prof. David Dexter, deputy director of research at Parkinson’s UK, a charity that contributed funding for the research.

“It has yet to be determined whether this quicker progression can be corrected by supplementation with a high calorie diet, however this could be a key potential development,” Dexter added.

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Source:: Parkinson’s Today

Caregiver Insights from the Parkinson’s Foundation

While your loved one’s Parkinson’s diagnosis probably changed your life overnight, caregiver is a role and an identity that you grow into, and it does not have to erase or replace any existing ways you self-identify. In this session from our 2016 Caregiver Summit, Susan Hedlund, MSW, LCSW, shared how you can continue to experience the love, friendship, contribution to society, ideas, and sense of wholeness that you need to grow as your own person, while you and your loved one face Parkinson’s together.

Whether you care for someone who is recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD), are adapting to new challenges as the disease progresses or have been living with PD for a long time, a strong support network is essential for your wellbeing and the wellbeing of the person with Parkinson’s. Making sure you are taken care of, too, can help create a productive partnership that minimizes stress and conflict. Benefits include revitalized energy, renewed interest in creative endeavors, new subjects to talk about and the realization that you and your partner are not alone.

Parkinson’s is a progressive disease, meaning that it changes over time. That can make it hard to define your role, as your involvement will change along the way. Responsibilities may include helping a loved one with daily activities, managing medications and making financial decisions.

Whatever your responsibilities, define “caregiving” for yourself. Especially early in the Parkinson’s journey, you might not feel like you are actually “giving” care. Similarly, your loved one might not see himself or herself as someone in need of care. But remember, care is not limited to physical tasks. Care can be emotional and spiritual as well as physical.

Source: Parkinson’s Foundation

9 Ways to Manage Brain Fog

By Wendy Henderson

One of the most frustrating symptoms of living with a chronic illness is brain fog. There are medications to treat many symptoms of chronic diseases, but sadly there isn’t yet a pill that takes away brain fog. However, there are ways to deal with it so patients can minimize its effects and lead a normal life.

We’ve put together a list of 10 ways to help manage brain fog, with help from princessinthetower.org, newlifeoutlook.com, and Web MD.

Write Things Down
Everyone forgets things now and then, but having brain fog often means forgetting important dates and occasions. Keep a to-do list and a calendar in a highly visible location, or use an online diary to keep track of what each day holds. There are many mobile apps that can also help with organization.

Exercise the Body
Exercise offers a chance to turn off from all the usual things that occupy the mind. It can also improve sleep, which can in turn improve cognitive skills.

Exercise the Mind
Take the time to do thought-challenging exercises like crosswords, sudoku and jigsaw puzzles, or learn a new language. In addition, maintaining a hobby will keep the mind focused on something positive.

MORE: 10 benefits of having a service or therapy dog when you have Parkinson’s

Pick the Right Time of Day
Whether a morning lark or night owl, we all have certain times when we feel more alert. Choose a time each day when your concentration is at its highest to tackle difficult and complex tasks.

Eat a Brain-Healthy Diet
Eat lots of good fats known for brain health such as nuts, avocados, coconut oil, and omega-3-rich foods.

Get Plenty of Rest
Quality sleep and restorative naps (when appropriate) can dramatically improve cognitive health. Try to keep to a routine bedtime and waking time, even on the weekend, to promote a good sleep pattern.

MORE: How you can manage fatigue with corrective stretching exercises

Go Easy on Yourself
Don’t overdo it. Ask for help when needed and try to rest as much as possible to conserve energy. Participate in calming activities like taking a stroll through a peaceful spot, reading a book, or listening to music.

Organize Your Home and Workspace
Reorganize your living and working space so that everything you need regularly is easily accessible. This can help conserve energy and provide peace of mind.

Plan Ahead
If brain fog is worse first thing in the morning, laying out clothes the night before will be one less thing to have to stress over in the morning. Sort meds into a daily medication box so you know when you’re up to date and can easily make sure you haven’t forgotten to take them (or don’t take them more than once).

MORE: New Microsoft watch can quiet Parkinson’s tremors

Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

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Source:: Parkinson’s Today

New technique scours the genome for genes that combat disease

Using a modified version of the CRISPR genome editing system, researchers have developed a new way to screen for genes that protect against specific diseases. They used this system to turn on randomly chosen genes in many different cells, allowing them to identify genes that protect cells from a protein associated with Parkinson’s disease.

Source:: Science Daily -CLICK TO READ MORE

It Doesn’t Matter What Exercise as Long as You’re Exercising

By Sherri Woodbridge

Several years ago, when I was diagnosed with young onset PD, it seemed the rage in beneficial exercise for people with Parkinson’s disease was bicycling. A few years later, the craze seemed to turn to dance. Now it seems as though boxing could be the in thing. As the others appear to come and go in cycles, one form of exercise that appears to remain consistent and advantageous is tai chi.

The question is, what exercise is best? I think the simple answer is whatever feels best and whatever you enjoy. None of it is bad for you and the most important thing is just to be doing something.

A real prospect exists that the physical movement involved in riding a bicycle, and in certain other forms of exercise, may alleviate the symptoms of the neurodegenerative condition we know more intimately as Parkinson’s disease.

The observation made by a research scientist from the Cleveland Clinic, in Ohio, that the physical symptoms associated with Parkinson’s appeared to improve in a personal friend who had ridden a tandem cycle. It seemed that there was a connection between forcing patients to move their legs faster than they would have otherwise been able to on their own, and because of this, there was a significant improvement in relieving symptoms.

In fact, further research from the Cleveland Clinic showed that forced exercise appeared to be more effective than drug treatment at improving symptoms in those with PD. They even went so far to suggest that forced exercise can also decrease some of the cognitive problems that can be associated with PD.

Studies have also shown that dance may be an effective alternative to traditional exercise for those with Parkinson’s disease. Staying active is crucial for those of us who have PD and dancing has been shown to lessen tremors and improve flexibility, as well as lifting mood.

“The positive effect that dancing has on us is quite magical,” says Alison Underwood, diagnosed with PD 10 years ago and now in her 60s. I don’t know about you, but I could use a little magic while living with this little monster we call Parkinson’s disease.

Boxing is definitely on the list of exercise popular among PD patients of late. Of course, it may not be the exercise of choice for everyone, but it has definitely become trendy. One such program is called Rock Steady Boxing. It is a non-contact program specifically designed for those with Parkinson’s to help strengthen motor skills, balance, speech, and sensory function.

A side benefit of getting out and getting some exercise is being around other people like us, those who struggle day-to-day with symptoms pertaining to PD. We can encourage each other to keep on keeping on.

 

Source:: Parkinson’s Today