While nearly one million people are living with Parkinson’s disease within the United States alone, the condition was perhaps first brought to the foreground by the diagnosis of Michael J. Fox. Since then, his foundation has funded breakthroughs in research and awareness that were previously unmatched, providing us with hope for a future cure.
In the meantime, it is important to understand the symptoms of Parkinson’s in order to receive a prompt diagnosis and the earliest possible treatment and intervention. Inspired Home Care’s award-winning senior care team has the essential information you need.
What Is Parkinson’s?
Parkinson’s disease is a brain disorder that affects a senior’s coordination, balance, and movement through tremors and progressive muscle stiffness and rigidity. Although the exact cause is not yet known, scientists believe that contributing factors are both genetic and environmental. It also usually affects adults ages 60 and older, although early onset Parkinson’s can occur before age 50. Additionally, we know that men are diagnosed twice as often as women.
In addition to stiffness and trembling, Parkinson’s may also cause changes in emotion, such as depression, problems with speaking and eating, sleeping pattern changes, skin problems, and others.
The Early Warning Signs and Symptoms of Parkinson’s
In the very early stages associated with the disease, there are several red flags that can be detected, such as:
- Changes in handwriting. Specifically, an individual with Parkinson’s will start to write much smaller, and with words and letters crowded together. This condition is known as micrographia.
- Changes in smell. Loss of smell is common in early Parkinson’s, particularly in foods like bananas, dill pickles, and licorice.
- Changes in speaking. A softer or hoarse tone of voice often accompanies Parkinson’s, though it is not always obvious to the individual with the condition. He or she may suspect hearing loss in others as a reason for not clearly understanding what the individual has said.
- Changes in facial expression. Facial masking, the term for someone who appears to always have a serious or depressed facial expression, is common in Parkinson’s.
- Changes in posture. Look for a stooped or leaning posture when standing, in addition to a stiffness in the legs and arms when the person is walking. One easy method to evaluate this is by watching to see if the individual’s arms swing naturally when walking. She or he might have a tendency to lean forward.
- Changes in sleeping. An individual with Parkinson’s may flail his/her legs and arms and make other unexpected movements while asleep. These movements can be troublesome to a sleeping partner, who may seek alternate sleeping arrangements.
In the event that you observe some of these changes in a senior you love, as well as the trademark signs of rigidity and tremors, contact his/her doctor as soon as possible for a complete assessment. Then call on Inspired Home Care for further resources pertaining to Parkinson’s and in-home supportive services to make life safer and more comfortable throughout the progression of the disease. You can email or call us any time to learn more about our award-winning elder care in Algonquin and throughout surrounding communities at 847-787-7572 and to arrange for a free in-home consultation.