A progressive nervous system disorder, Parkinson’s disease affects nearly one million people in the United States as of 2020. Age increases the risk factors for developing the disease. When a loved one shows any of the following signs of Parkinson’s disease, schedule a doctor’s appointment.
Parkinson’s disease is a common medical condition. Approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with the condition each year. Men have a greater likelihood (1.5 times) than women for developing Parkinson’s disease. Globally, more than ten million people live with Parkinson’s disease.
What is Parkinson’s Disease?
Movement is adversely affected in people with Parkinson’s disease. A slight tremor in one hand might start to manifest, but symptoms of the disease also include stiffness and slowing of movement. Facial expressions become limited, and speech is often slurred.
As of date, a cure has not been developed for Parkinson’s disease. When symptoms begin to appear, a physician may prescribe medications to help improve symptoms. In some cases, a doctor may recommend surgery to regulate areas of the brain.
What are signs of Parkinson’s disease?
When a senior displays one of the following signs, it should not be an immediate cause for concern. However, if the elderly individual shows multiple symptoms, an appointment should be made with the senior’s doctor for a diagnosis and care plan.
A slight tremor in the hand, chin, finger or thumb while at rest is a common, early sign of Parkinson’s disease. Shaking might even begin in a limb. The senior may also experience a pill-rolling tremor, where the individual rubs the thumb and forefinger back and forth.
It is normal for seniors to experience shaking or tremors after a heavy exercise session, an injury or when the individual is under stress. Certain medications can also cause shakiness or tremors. In such instances, Parkinson’s disease may not be the culprit.
2. Difficulty Moving
Stiffness in the body, arms or legs can cause the senior to not sway her arms when she walks. When stiffness does not improve upon movement, it could be an early sign of Parkinson’s disease. Pain in the shoulder or hips are common and can also indicate the condition.
3. Vocal Changes
Parkinson’s disease can cause slurred, soft or hoarse speech. The affected individual may also speak more quickly than usual. Rather than be vocally expressive, a Parkinson’s patient will speak in a monotone manner. Changes in voice should prompt the senior to see a doctor for an evaluation.
4. Facial Masking
A Parkinson’s patient will have a serious or upset look on her face, even when she is in a good mood. Parkinson’s disease causes the senior to lose facial expressions (also known as hypomimia). A fixed, mask-like expression is a telltale sign of the disease.
The progressive loss of motor control (which also affects the rest of the body) extends to the face, resulting in facial masking. Friends and acquaintances who are unaware of the cause of the issue may be put off by the lack of emotion in the senior’s response.
5. Posture Changes
An individual who begins to hunch over, slouch or stoop may be doing so because of Parkinson’s disease. The senior’s posture changes include rounded shoulders, decreased low back curve and forward lean of head or body. Standing crookedly and balance problems are also symptoms of the condition.
Maintaining an upright posture is important, as failing to do so can lead to negative effects. When the natural curve of the spine is out of alignment, neck or back pain can result. Being hunched over, the senior cannot breathe deeply, which impairs her ability to speak clearly.
6. Smaller Handwriting
Micrographia is a term used to describe the abnormal changes in handwriting that occur because of Parkinson’s disease. The senior living with Parkinson’s disease will start to write smaller-sized words or crowd letters together. The individual may also have a harder time writing at all.
Damage to the nerve cells in the brain that regulate motor skills will cause difficulty with writing in Parkinson’s patients. The slow movement of arms and fingers and the tremors reported in Parkinson’s disease can also cause either consistent or progressive micrographia.
Talk to Your Physician
When multiple signs of Parkinson’s disease appear, it is important that the senior consult with a doctor. A medical professional will develop a plan to stay healthy. A neurologist, physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech therapist or social worker may become involved to help the senior better live with the condition.
Since the cause of Parkinson’s disease is unknown, prevention methods are unavailable. However, some research concludes that aerobic exercise may help reduce the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. Plus, other research finds that seniors who consume caffeine are less likely to get the disease.
Home Care Services to Assist with Parkinson’s Disease
An elderly loved one who begins to show signs of Parkinson’s disease should discuss with family and friends the various ways to obtain ongoing care. One route many seniors and their families take is consulting a home care agency, like Assisting Hands Home Care, for in-home support.
Professional caregivers from Assisting Hands Home Care are trained to provide seniors with extra help in the comfort of home. Our elderly home care responsibilities are comprehensive and include assistance with personal hygiene, transportation, meal preparation, medication reminders and light housekeeping.
Since aerobic activity can reduce the likelihood of developing Parkinson’s disease, our caregivers will ensure the senior exercises daily. We accompany our care recipients on walks around the home and provide transportation to senior yoga or senior center exercise classes.
Other Home Care Services
Assisting Hands Home Care offers a wide range of senior care services designed to help seniors remain as independent as possible at home. We provide skilled dementia care, respite care, 24-hour home care, live-in care, post-operative care and hospice care. Our services are flexible and customizable.
When the senior in your life shows signs of needing additional support at home, consult the most reputable elder care agency in Hollywood and the surrounding communities of West Broward county, Florida.