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Mr. Hernandez Has Parkinson’s Disease

Mr. Hernandez welcomes his certified nursing assistant May to his home. May is right on time at noon to check on his health and prepare his lunch.

Mr. Hernandez has Parkinson’s disease, a common disease among elderly people. Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disease, meaning it affects the brain. When a person has Parkinson’s disease, the brain does not produce enough dopamine to help with regular functions of the nerves. Without enough dopamine, Mr. Hernandez has trouble controlling his muscle movements and has tremors in his hands and difficulty walking. Once he is walking, it is hard for him to stop; as a result, he is at an increased risk for falling. Also, because Parkinson’s affects Mr. Hernandez’s muscles, he can’t move his facial muscles very much. May understands Mr. Hernandez’s condition, and she knows he is happy to see her, even if he can barely smile.

May fixes lunch for Mr. Hernandez. Keeping in mind that he often has trouble chewing and swallowing because of the Parkinson’s, she tries to make meals that are easy to eat and don’t require a lot of chewing. She fixes small meals for him because large meals would take too long to eat. Sometimes he drools, and May wipes his mouth when necessary. When he drinks liquids, his hands shake, so May helps him sip from a cup with a top to avoid spilling.

Following May’s advice, Mr. Hernandez goes for a short walk every day and also does exercises in his living room chair. Movement can help lessen the symptoms of Parkinson’s, though Mr. Hernandez finds that he needs to stop and rest frequently. When May asks Mr. Hernandez a question, she often asks a “yes/no” question to make answering easier. May is always encouraging yet patient with Mr. Hernandez; therefore, she works very well with him and with his Parkinson’s disease.

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© 2015 by Southwest Adult Basic Education

Project made financially possible through grants from:

Southwest Initiative Foundation, Marshall Community Foundation, Southwest Regional Transition Partners, Southwest Adult Basic Education, Marshall Healthcare Partners