What Caregivers Need to Know about Parkinson's Medications

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Understanding Parkinson’s Medications

By Glenn Krakow, 8:00 am on

Medication management can be a challenging part of caring for an aging relative. This is especially true if your loved one has been diagnosed with a chronic condition such as Parkinson’s disease, which requires multiple prescriptions to manage its symptoms. If you provide home care for an elderly parent or loved one with Parkinson’s, read on about the various medications that may be prescribed for Parkinson’s disease so that you can avoid medication overdoses and mix-ups, enhancing overall safety.

Common Medications & Uses

Parkinson’s symptoms are caused by diminished dopamine, a chemical in the brain. The primary prescription for Parkinson’s is Carbidopa/Levodopa, which is converted to dopamine when ingested. This drug, which manages many major symptoms and preserves mobility, is available in a variety of doses from different manufacturers, so it’s important to confirm that your loved one’s pills are correct each time you pick up a refill at the pharmacy. Side effects can include nausea, dizziness, and low blood pressure.

Other medications to be aware of include, but are not limited to:

  • COMT inhibitors such as tolcapone (Tasmar) are often taken in conjunction with Carbidopa/Levodopa to prolong its effects.
  • Dopamine agonists such as Pramipexole mimic the effect of dopamine on the brain and can be used alone or with Carbidopa/Levodopa. While not as effective as the former, there are fewer side effects with dopamine agonists.
  • Anticholinergics (Artane®, Cogentin®) limit the amount of acetylcholine in the brain to put it back in balance with the amount of dopamine. This therapy helps combat muscle stiffness and pain.
  • MAO-B inhibitors help prevent the breakdown of dopamine in the brain to treat major symptoms; however, these are not typically used in combination with other drugs, especially antidepressants.
  • Amantadine (Symmetrel) may be prescribed to help tremor, but is typically only effective in the early stages of the disease.

Talk with your loved one’s doctor about each of his or her prescriptions to ensure that they are being taken correctly and that side effects are manageable. If you are concerned about your loved one’s ability to manage medications independently and are unable to provide around-the-clock monitoring, it may be time to consider a professional hourly caregiver to ensure safety, comfort and proper medication management. Click here to learn more about hourly home care services in El Dorado Hills and the surrounding communities.

To learn more about caring for a senior with Parkinson’s or to find support services nearest you, reach out to Home Care Assistance. Located in El Dorado Hills, CA, we are recognized as one of the top local providers of senior home care and offer in-home Parkinson’s care for seniors and older adults. For more information about the specialty Parkinson’s care El Dorado Hills families trust, call 916-358-3801 and schedule a complimentary, no-obligation consultation with a friendly Care Manager.