When a person is diagnosed with Parkinson’s, it impacts family members along with the person diagnosed. Understanding what to anticipate as the disease progresses is key to being prepared for the changes in the future and to make life the very best it can be each day.
Over the next month or two, we’ll be posting what to expect in each stage of Parkinson’s disease, including what family caregivers can do to best help a loved one with Parkinson’s, and how Abby Senior Care’s Parkinson’s caregivers can help. Read part two and part three in our series.
The Early Stages of Parkinson’s Disease
Each person experiences Parkinson’s in different ways, but in general, the first stage symptoms are relatively mild, with no functional impairment. One side of the body is generally affected first, with occasional tremors and/or stiffness in one hand or leg or expression changes in one part of the face.
As the illness continues through the first stage, both sides of the body begin to experience these changes. This advancement might take months or possibly even years. While balance typically remains unimpaired at this time, other changes can include:
- A softer tone of voice, or one that starts off more loudly but fades in volume as the person keeps talking
- Slurred speech
- Decreased blinking and other facial expression changes
- A general sluggishness in doing day-to-day activities
- Increased stiffness and/or rigidity in muscles
- Pain in the neck or back
- An increasingly stooped posture
The Effect of Early Stage Parkinson’s on Family Caregivers
The initial diagnosis and early stage may be a difficult time for the person with the disease and close members of the family. Taking time to sort out these emotions is very important. This can be done through professional counseling, talking with a clergy member or close friend, journaling, and exploring Parkinson’s support groups, either virtual or in person.
While hands-on care is usually not needed (or welcomed) during this period, it is a good time for you to start to put a strategy in place for the changes ahead. For instance, think through whether you will want to work outside of the home as the disease advances, or if you desire to be home to offer full-time care. Would the person diagnosed prefer to remain at home throughout the progression of the disease, or to move into a care facility? Who can become part of your support network to allow you to take regular breaks for self-care and to attend to shopping, housework, preparing meals, and all of the other essential daily tasks?
Abby Senior Care’s award-winning in-home care experts are here to partner with you through each stage of Parkinson’s. We can help you create a practical plan of care that will guarantee all needs are met now, and as they change as time goes by.
It is important to understand that caregiving should not be a solo undertaking. Call us at 303-699-8840 for a free in-home consultation to learn more about how our in-home care services and Parkinson’s caregivers can ease the transitions through Parkinson’s both for you and the senior you love. For a full list of all of the communities where we provide our award-winning home care services, please visit our Service Area page.