While almost one million individuals are living with Parkinson’s disease within the United States alone, the condition was probably first brought to the spotlight by the diagnosis of Michael J. Fox. Since his Parkinson’s diagnosis, his foundation has provided breakthroughs in research and awareness that were previously unmatched, giving us hope for a future cure.
In the meantime, it is critical to know what Parkinson’s is in addition to signs to watch for, in order to receive a timely diagnosis and the earliest possible intervention and treatment. At-Home Care Company’s Des Moines elder care team has the 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 rigidity and stiffness. While the precise cause is not yet known, scientists believe that contributing factors are both genetic and environmental. In addition, it typically impacts adults ages 60 and older, although early onset Parkinson’s can develop prior to age 50. Furthermore, researchers know that men are diagnosed at a higher rate than women.
In addition to trembling and stiffness, Parkinson’s also can cause changes in emotion, for example, depression, issues with speaking and eating, sleeping pattern changes, skin problems, and others.
The Early Warning Signs and Symptoms of Parkinson’s
In the very first stages of the disease, there are several warning flags that can be detected, such as:
- Changes in handwriting. Specifically, an individual with Parkinson’s will begin 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, especially in foods like bananas, dill pickles, and licorice.
- Changes in speaking. A softer or hoarse tone of voice often accompanies Parkinson’s, yet 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 seems to always have a serious or depressed facial expression, is common in Parkinson’s.
- Changes in posture. Watch for a stooped or leaning posture when standing, in addition to a stiffness in the arms and legs when the individual is walking. One quick way to evaluate this is by observing if the senior’s arms swing naturally when walking. He or she might have a tendency to lean forward.
- Changes in sleeping. An individual with Parkinson’s may flail his/her legs and arms and also make other unexpected movements while asleep. These movements can be troublesome to a sleeping partner, who may seek alternate sleeping arrangements.
If you notice any of these changes in a person you love, as well as the hallmark signs and symptoms of rigidity and tremors, contact his/her medical doctor at the earliest opportunity for a full evaluation. Then get in touch with At-Home Care Company for further resources related to a Parkinson’s diagnosis and in-home supportive services to make life safer and more comfortable during the progression of the disease. You can reach us any time at (515) 292-2650 to learn more about our home care in Des Moines, Iowa, and the surrounding communities, and to schedule a complimentary in-home consultation.