A Parkinson’s diagnosis impacts family members along with the person diagnosed. Understanding what to expect as the disease advances is vital to being ready for the changes to come and to make life the best it can be every day.
Over the next couple of months, we will be posting what to anticipate in each stage of Parkinson’s disease, including what family caregivers can do to best help a senior with Parkinson’s, and how Compassionate Nursing Services, a provider of home care assistance in St. Louis and nearby areas, can help. Read part two and part three of our series.
The Beginning Stages of Parkinson’s
Each person experiences Parkinson’s differently; however, in general, the first stage symptoms are fairly mild, and most experience no functional impairment. One side of the body is generally affected first, with periodic tremors and/or inflexibility in one hand or leg or expression changes in one side of the face.
As the disease continues through the early stage, both sides of the body will go through these changes. This development may take months or possibly years. While balance is still usually not impaired at this time, other changes may include:
- A softer tone of voice, or one that starts off more loudly but fades in volume as the person continues to talk
- Slurred speech
- Decreased blinking along with other facial expression changes
- A general sluggishness in performing day to day activities
- Increased stiffness and/or rigidity in muscles
- Neck or back pain
- An increasingly stooped posture
The Effect of the Beginning Stages of Parkinson’s on Family Caregivers
The initial diagnosis and early stage may be a challenging time for the person with the disease and for close loved ones. Taking time to deal with these emotions is essential, through professional counseling, talking with a clergy member or good friend, journaling, and exploring Parkinson’s support groups, either online or in person.
While hands-on care is usually not needed (or welcomed) at this point, it’s a good time to begin to plan for the changes ahead. For example, think through whether you will need to work outside the home as the disease progresses, or if you desire to be home to offer full-time care. Would the person diagnosed choose to remain in the home throughout the progression of the disease, or to move into a care facility? Who is able to join your support network to help you to take regular breaks for self-care and to manage shopping, housework, preparing meals, as well as the other necessary daily responsibilities?
Compassionate Nursing Services’ award-winning experts in home care assistance in St. Louis and surrounding communities, are here to partner with you through each stage of Parkinson’s. We can help you create a practical plan of care that will ensure all needs are met now, and as they adjust in the future.
It is important to remember that caregiving should not be a solo undertaking. Reach out to us at 314-432-4312 for a free in-home assessment to learn more about our in-home care services and how we are able to ease the transitions through Parkinson’s both for you and the senior you love. To find out if our award-winning care is available in your community, please visit our Service Area page.