Despite the fact that nearly one million people are living with Parkinson’s disease in 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 provided for advancements in research and awareness that were previously unparalleled, giving us hope for a future cure.
In order to receive an early diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, it’s important to know what signs to watch for so that intervention and treatment can begin as soon as possible. Grace Home Care’s Topeka senior 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 stiffness and rigidity. Although the precise cause is unknown, scientists believe that contributing factors are both genetic and environmental. In addition, it usually affects adults ages 60 and older, although early onset Parkinson’s can occur before age 50. Furthermore, we know that men are diagnosed at a higher rate than women.
In addition to stiffness and trembling, Parkinson’s also can cause changes in emotion (such as depression), issues with speaking and eating, sleeping pattern changes, skin problems, and more.
The Early Warning Signs and Symptoms 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, and with letters and words crowded together. This condition is referred to as micrographia.
- Changes in smell. Loss of smell is common in early Parkinson’s, particularly in foods like dill pickles, bananas, and licorice.
- Changes in speaking. A softer or hoarse tone of voice often accompanies Parkinson’s, although it is not always apparent to the senior 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. Watch for a leaning or stooped posture when standing, in addition to a stiffness in the arms and legs when the person is walking. One quick method to assess this is by watching to see if the senior’s arms swing naturally when walking. He or she may have a tendency to lean forward.
- Changes in sleeping. Someone with Parkinson’s may flail his/her legs and arms and also make other abrupt movements while sleeping. These movements can be disturbing to a sleeping partner, who may seek alternate sleeping arrangements.
If you observe any of these changes in someone you love, as well as the trademark signs of rigidity and tremors, contact his or her doctor at your earliest convenience for a complete evaluation. Then contact Grace Home Care for more resources pertaining to Parkinson’s and in-home supportive services to help make life safer and significantly more comfortable during the progression of the disease. You can reach us any time at 785-286-2273 to find out more about our award-winning senior care in Topeka, KS, and to schedule a free in-home consultation.