Though nearly one million individuals 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. Since then, his foundation has funded advancements in research and awareness that were previously unparalleled, providing us with hope for a future cure.
In the meantime, it is important to know the warning signs of Parkinson’s disease in order to receive a timely diagnosis and the earliest possible treatment and intervention. Compassionate Nursing Services’ Chesterfield caregiving team has the information you need.
What Is Parkinson’s?
Parkinson’s disease is a brain disorder that affects an individual’s balance, coordination, and movement through tremors and progressive muscle rigidity and stiffness. Although the precise cause is not known, researchers think that contributing factors are both genetic and environmental. It also typically impacts adults ages 60 and older, though early onset Parkinson’s can develop before age 50. Furthermore, we know that men are diagnosed twice as often as women.
In addition to trembling and stiffness, Parkinson’s may also cause changes in emotion (such as depression), problems with speaking and eating, sleeping pattern changes, skin problems, and more.
The Early Warning Signs of Parkinson’s Disease
In the very early stages of the disease, there are several red flags that can be detected, including:
- 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 known as micrographia.
- Changes in smell. Loss of smell is common in early Parkinson’s, especially in foods like dill pickles, bananas, and licorice.
- Changes in speaking. A softer or hoarse tone of voice frequently accompanies Parkinson’s, though it is not always apparent 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 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, as well as a stiffness in the arms and legs when the senior is walking. One quick way to evaluate this is by observing if the individual’s arms swing naturally when walking. He or she might have a tendency to lean forward.
- Changes in sleeping. A senior with Parkinson’s may flail his/her legs and arms and make other abrupt movements while asleep. These movements can be troublesome to a sleeping partner, who may seek alternative sleeping arrangements.
If you observe some of these changes in a person you love, in addition to the hallmark signs of rigidity and tremors, contact his/her doctor as soon as possible for a comprehensive evaluation. Then call on Compassionate Nursing Services for additional 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 reach us any time at 314-432-4312 for additional details about our award-winning Chesterfield caregiving services, and to arrange for a free in-home consultation. Visit our Service Area page to learn about all of the communities where we provide care.