Although almost a million individuals are living with Parkinson’s disease in the U.S. alone, the condition was perhaps first brought to the spotlight by the diagnosis of Michael J. Fox. Since his diagnosis, his foundation has provided for breakthroughs in research and awareness that were previously unparalleled, providing us with hope for a future cure.
In the meantime, it’s critical to know what Parkinson’s is in addition to signs to watch for in order to receive a prompt diagnosis and the earliest possible intervention and treatment. Home With You Senior Care’s Ellicott City elder care team has the information you need.
What Is Parkinson’s?
Parkinson’s disease is a brain disorder that impacts an individual’s coordination, balance, and movement through tremors and progressive muscle rigidity and stiffness. Although the precise cause is unknown, scientists think that contributing factors are both genetic and environmental. In addition, it typically affects adults age 60 and older, though early onset Parkinson’s can occur before age 50. Furthermore, researchers know that men are diagnosed at a higher rate than as women.
In addition to trembling and stiffness, Parkinson’s may also cause changes in emotion (for example, depression), issues with eating and speaking, sleeping pattern changes, skin problems, and others.
The Early Warning Signs of Parkinson’s
In the very early stages of the disease, there are a number of red flags that can be detected, such as:
- Changes in handwriting. Specifically, someone with Parkinson’s will start to write much smaller, 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, although it is not always obvious to the person with the condition. She or he 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 a person who seems to always have a serious or depressed facial expression, is common in Parkinson’s.
- Changes in posture. Look for a leaning or stooped posture when standing, in addition to a stiffness in the arms and legs when the person is walking. One simple method to assess this is by observing 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 or her arms and legs and also make other abrupt movements during sleep. These movements can be troublesome to a sleeping partner, who may seek alternative sleeping arrangements.
If you notice these changes in a senior you love, as well as the hallmark signs of rigidity and tremors, contact his or her health care provider as quickly as possible for a comprehensive evaluation. Then call on Home With You Senior Care for additional resources related to Parkinson’s and in-home supportive services to make life safer and significantly comfortable throughout the progression of the disease. You can reach us any time at 410-756-0959 to find out more about our award-winning home care in Ellicott City, MD and nearby areas, and to arrange for a free in-home consultation.