Loss of fine motor control is one of the most difficult aspects of Parkinson’s disease. Fortunately, there are a number of things that seniors can do to retain dexterity in their hands and to limit Parkinson’s tremors. Following are five exercises that can be performed daily.
1. Master A Challenging, Daily Activity
Certain routine tasks become increasingly challenging as Parkinson’s progresses. This might be as simple as buttoning or unbuttoning a blouse or tying a shoe. Many Parkinson’s patients are surprised to discover that repetition can actually make these activities easier. Thus, those who want to retain these basic skills will have to work hard at encouraging their hands to do them.
A senior with Parkinson’s who struggles with buttoning shirts can gain impressive improvements in fine motor coordination by simply spending a small portion of his or her day buttoning and unbuttoning a blouse. Efforts to continue managing small, but challenging daily activities is important for retaining independence.
2. Arm Swings
Swinging the arms helps to stave of rigidity and stiffness. It also promotes better blood flow, improved balance, increased energy and fewer tremors. Start by having your senior loved one sit in an armless chair. Swing arms back in forth in a wide arc for one minute. If possible, he or she should try completing this exercise while standing. Lancaster Parkinson’s caregivers should make sure seniors with PD perform standing versions of this activity on soft surfaces and with a spotter for extra support.
3. Thumb Touches
Starting with the index finger, your elderly loved one should focus on touching the tip of each digit to the pad of the thumb, one finger at a time. This will become progressively more difficult as he or she moves closer to the pinkie. The exercise isn’t completed until all fingers have touched the pad of the thumb at least one time. This exercise strengthens neurological connections that are essential for controlled movements and overall fine motor coordination.
4. The Stress Ball Squeeze
Have your senior loved one hold a small stress ball in the palm of his or her hand and then squeeze it as tightly as possible. After several seconds, allow the hand to gradually relax and then squeeze the ball again. The focus should be on moving hand muscles through the various stages of contraction and relaxation. This fosters improved motor control and overall hand strength.
Although many people are eager to build up their hand strength, the best way for a senior with PD to improve his or her fine motor skills and coordination is by stretching the affected area. This will alleviate the stiffness that people often feel as the disease progresses. With his or her arm extended and palm flexed, have your senior loved one extend each finger as far out as they will go so that a stretching sensation is felt across the middle of the palm.
Talk with your senior loved one’s physician and physical therapist about other exercises and stretches than can help alleviate common PD symptoms. If you’re concerned about your loved one completing various day-to-day activities on his or her own, reach our to Home Care Assistance–we are Lancaster’s trusted provider of in-home Parkinson’s care. You can learn more about our care services by clicking here or calling out office at (717) 540-4663 and scheduling a free in-home consultation.