Even though almost a million people are living with Parkinson’s disease within the United States alone, the condition was perhaps first brought to the spotlight by the diagnosis of Michael J. Fox. His foundation has funded breakthroughs in research and awareness, which were previously unmatched, providing us with hope for a future cure.
In the meantime, it’s important to understand the early warning signs of Parkinson’s, as well as an overview of the disease, in order to receive a prompt diagnosis and the earliest possible treatment and intervention. Abby Senior Care, the award-winning provider of Denver senior care, has the information you need.
What Is Parkinson’s?
Parkinson’s disease is a brain disorder that affects a person’s coordination, balance, and movement through tremors and progressive muscle rigidity and stiffness. Although the precise cause is not yet known, scientists think that contributing factors are both environmental and genetic. In addition, it usually affects adults ages 60 and older, although early onset Parkinson’s can occur before age 50. Researchers also 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), problems with speaking and eating, sleeping pattern changes, skin problems, and more.
The Early Warning Signs of Parkinson’s
In the very first stages associated with the disease, there are a number of 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 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 bananas, dill pickles, and licorice.
- Changes in speaking. A hoarse tone or softer voice frequently accompanies Parkinson’s; however, it is not always recognizable 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 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 senior is walking. One quick method to assess this is by watching to see if the senior’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 make other abrupt movements during sleep. These movements can be disturbing to a sleeping partner, who may seek alternative sleeping arrangements.
In the event that you notice any of these changes in someone you love, in addition to the trademark signs of rigidity and tremors, contact his/her physician at your earliest convenience for a comprehensive assessment. Then call on Abby Senior Care for more resources pertaining to Parkinson’s and in-home supportive services to help make life safer and more comfortable during the progression of the disease. You can email or call us any time at 303-699-8840 for more information about our trusted Denver senior care and also to arrange for a free in-home assessment. For a full list of all of the communities where we provide care, please visit our Service Area page.