There is a long list of drugs to treat Parkinson’s disease, and many people take a mix of medications to manage the motor skills and side effects.
The gold standard and most potent is levodopa, which the brain synthesizes to form dopamine. Other options include dopamine agonists and anticholinergic drugs to help reduce tremors. MAO-B inhibitors and COMT inhibitors enhance the effect of levodopa.
Keeping track of all the medications can be tough, as Susan Baldwin, 77, a former teacher who has Parkinson’s disease, knows.
The Winthrop Harbor resident is an ambassador for the Parkinson’s Foundation’s Aware in Care campaign, which includes a free kit that contains information cards, a hospital plan and a form to list each person’s medications. The kit is available online through the Parkinson’s Foundation or by calling 800-473-4636.
The Parkinson’s Foundation says that three out of four people with Parkinson’s disease don’t receive their medications on time in the hospital, which can cause unnecessary complications.
Baldwin has experienced low blood pressure that has caused her to pass out. (Parkinson’s disease and the medications used to treat it can cause low blood pressure when changing positions.) At the hospital, the Aware in Care kit let the staff know the medications she needed.
Along with her husband, Baldwin leads a support group at Vista Medical Center East, in Waukegan, and she says the meetings are also good medicine.
“We talk about how to do difficult things like getting dressed or eating, nutrition, hobbies, nightmares,” she says. “If somebody is feeling down in the dumps, you can always call one of the others to talk or go out and have a cup of coffee.”
Ronni Gordon lives in an old house with an old dog. She specializes in health, dogs, college publications and cancer survivorship.