Parkinson’s disease (PD) affects about 500,000 people in the United States. Even though the disease is prevalent, it can be hard to tell if someone has PD in the early stages. The symptoms can be subtle at first, but the disease is progressive, which means that the symptoms get worse. One of the risk factors for PD is having a close relative with the disease. If your parent has a family history of PD, you may be concerned about them getting the disease, too. If so, here are five early signs of PD to watch for:
#1 Change in Handwriting
Although a person’s handwriting may change as they age due to vision changes or stiffness in the hands, it is not normal for handwriting to change suddenly. When a person has PD, their handwriting may suddenly become smaller and the words may be crowded together. This is called micrographia. Sometimes a person suffering with PD will begin writing on a page in their usual handwriting, but as they go on, the writing changes.
#2 Vocal Changes
PD can cause a person’s voice to become soft or hoarse. They may not be aware that their voice has become quieter, so to them, it might seem like the people they are talking to do not hear well. You might also notice that they speak with less inflection or with lower tones.
#3 Trouble Sleeping
Everyone experiences an occasional night of restlessness where they toss and turn all night. However, when a person has uncontrolled movements during the night, such as kicking, flailing their arms, or falling out of bed, they could have PD. This symptom is usually noticed by other people, such as a spouse that sleeps with the person or someone who observes them sleeping.
#4 Masked Facial Expression
People with PD sometimes appear to be wearing a mask in that they have a serious expression, look as though they are mad, or have a blank stare even when they are in a good mood. They may also blink infrequently.
Tremors, or shaking, are one of the more recognized symptoms of PD. Usually, the person with PD will be the only person to notice them at first. They may experience a tremor in a foot, finger, hand or in the chin or lips. The tremors most often occur when the person is at rest.
If your parent is diagnosed with PD, hiring a senior care provider can help them remain independent longer. Senior care providers can come to your parent’s house to assist them with things that become difficult because of PD symptoms, such as dressing, grooming, cooking, cleaning, and showering. Senior care providers can also remind your parent to take any medications the doctor prescribes to control PD symptoms.
If you or an aging loved-one is considering senior care in Germantown, PA, please contact the caring staff at Assisting Hands of Central Philadelphia. 215-274-0900.