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Standing and Sitting

It is essential to address your loved one's physical and mobility challenges. As Parkinson's progresses, you will likely need to provide greater hands-on assistance and learn safe and effective ways to provide help without injuring yourself or the person with Parkinson's. Talk to your loved one's healthcare provider to obtain a referral to a physical therapist (PT). PTs are trained to provide an evaluation and assist you in developing the best methods for your situation. They are as important for you as the care partner as they are for your person living with Parkinson's.

Standing and Sitting Tips and Strategies

When at home, make sure that your loved ones uses a chair with sturdy arm rests and a stable sitting base. Avoid soft, low seating or upholstery such as velour or velvet, which can make movements more difficult to perform. You can also raise seat height by adding an extra cushion to the chair or using a sturdy folded blanket.

  • When attempting to get up, make sure the person with Parkinson's first scoots their hips forward to the edge of the chair.

  • Make sure your loved one's feet are placed firmly underneath him or her before standing. You may need to help with proper foot placement.

  • Use cues like "nose over toes" to give the person with Parkinson's a goal for leaning forward, easing the transfer out of a chair.

  • When helping the person with Parkinson's stand up, avoid pulling on his arms or legs as he or she tries to stand.

  • A transfer belt often makes providing assistance safer and easier (These belts can be purchased at a medical equipment store).

  • Make sure the person with Parkinson's puts both hands on the arm rests and leans forward as they try to sit down. Remind him or her to wait until they feel the chair against the backs of both legs before attempting to sit. This helps maintain smooth, controlled motion and avoids "crash landings," which can be dangerous and hard on the person's spine.

  • If the person with Parkinson's uses a walker, make sure he or she continues to use this device as they turn to sit down.

If the person with Parkinson's is no longer able to provide assistance getting up and down with hands on arm rests, it may be best to stand directly in front of them, grasping the transfer belt with both hands. Using a pre-arranged count or signal, assist the person to his or her feet, then slowly perform a pivot turn in the direction of the wheelchair or other surface he or she is moving to. For a demonstration, watch the video: "Movement and Falls Part 1" in the CareMAP: How-to Videos" playlist at Parkinson.org/videos.

Sources:

Parkinson's Foundation. Page 136. Movement Challenges. Chapter 6. Advanced Parkinson's. Caring and Coping. A Care Partners' Guide to Parkinson's Disease. "Booklet."

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