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Treating the “Off” Periods of Parkinson’s

By Jennifer Thompson, 9:00 am on

Approximately 40 percent of Parkinson’s patients experience “off” periods when medications to control motor functioning aren’t as effective. According to Nashville elder care professionals, it’s during these periods that seniors don’t respond well to medications like levodopa and dopamine agonists that otherwise work very well at controlling muscle stiffness, tremors and slow movement. The following treatments often minimize “off” periods experienced by seniors with Parkinson’s.

Medication Adjustments

Increasing the amount of dopamine agonists prescribed can reduce “off” times by as much as 30 percent in some people. However, side effects like low blood pressure, ankle swelling, and trouble sleeping can also increase. Additional medications that may reduce “off” periods include:

Selegiline – This MAO-B inhibitor consistently improves motor functions, although it can also increase the risk of exhibiting dyskinesias, involuntary movements of the face, tongue, lips, face and extremities.

COMT inhibitors – The purpose of COMT inhibitors is to enhance the effects of levodopa, allowing the medication to remain more potent and effective between dosages.

Controlled-release levodopa – Initial studies showed benefits in some patients taking this variation of levodopa.

Apomorphine – This injectable medication is easily administered when a senior or in-home caregiver notices a period when symptoms are getting worse. Side effects like hallucinations, low blood pressure, and dyskinesias can be reduced by changing the injection site with each use.

Dietary Changes

The gap between “on” and “off” periods can sometimes be filled through dietary changes. Reducing proteins like meats, seafood, and dairy products can help reduce the absorption rate of levodopa, which can retain the potency of the medication during “off” periods to minimize issues with motor skills.

An effective treatment for “off” period Parkinson’s symptoms has yet to be discovered. A combination of medications and dietary changes, however, can make such periods more tolerable for both seniors and caregivers often caught off guard when symptoms suddenly return or become worse.

Being the primary caregiver for an aging parent with Parkinson’s can be challenging, but know that help is available. Home Care Assistance of Nashville is a reliable provider of Parkinson’s home care in Nashville, providing support to both families and their senior loved ones. Our caregivers are expertly trained, available 24/7, and our care services are backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee. For more information, call (615) 656-4999 and request a complimentary in-home consultation.