3 things to know about frailty and parkinson’s: III. Disease management

Parkinson’s disease can exaggerate the frailty constitution.

This past week, I’ve presented some of my PhD research specifically focusing on frailty and Parkinson’s disease… I’ve talked about the importance of quality of life and physical activity, especially in females. Now I want to talk about Parkinson’s disease management.

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(Link to full article here: Roland, Cornett, Theou, Jakobi & Jones. J Frailty Aging 2012; 1(3):123-127)

As we know, there currently is no cure for Parkinson’s (… but fingers crossed!); therefore the disease is managed by a multidisciplinary healthcare team through a combination of medications and therapies (including, physical, speech language, occupational, etc.). The findings of this paper demonstrated that the daily dosage of dopaminergic medication best indicated your level of frailtymore levodopa = more frail.

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Now, what this REALLY means is: Parkinson’s is progressive, so as the disease progresses medication dosage is adjusted to manage the increasing symptom severity. For example, as the disease progresses FATIGUE becomes a major concern and can be most disabling.

We know: Dopamine deficiency –> Fatigue. So, in Parkinson’s: Dopamine decline –> Fatigue –> (*Frail* –>) Increase levodopa dose.

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Understanding how frailty relates to Parkinson’s can improve early identification and targeted management strategies… which can ultimately preserve functional independence!

Thanks for letting me share some of my work! much love.

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2 thoughts on “3 things to know about frailty and parkinson’s: III. Disease management

  1. Kaitlyn, well done…I would be interested in reading more of your research. My mother has a probable diagnosis of Lewy Body Dementia. She is currently severely frail and has low quality of life, precipitated by a recent hospitalization due to an exacerbation of COPD.

    • Thanks Cathy! Sorry to hear about your mom. Accumulating comorbidities leads to impaired physical capacity and greatly increases the risk for frailty. As you know, polypharmacy is associated with managing multiple comorbidities, and can also increase risk for adverse reactions and functional impairment… making someone more frail! The good news is, optimal management can help reverse some of the frailty features! With LBD my advice is that it is a multisystem disease, therefore surround yourself with a team of healthcare professionals (geriatrician, OT, PT, SLP, psych etc) so all aspects are being managed as a team, reducing any increased risk for frailty.

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