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What is Parkinson’s Disease?

By August 14, 2019Chronic Disease

Learning that you have Parkinson’s disease, or recognizing some of the signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease in a loved one can be devastating. As many people know, Parkinson’s disease affects a person’s movement, and it can result in a person ultimately finding it difficult or even impossible to walk or even talk over time. If you suspect that you or a close family member has Parkinson’s disease, it is important to seek advice from a doctor and to learn more about whether you may be eligible for home healthcare services to help with your disabling disease.

Getting an Overview of Parkinson’s Disease

The Mayo Clinic explains that Parkinson’s disease is “a progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement.” The National Institute on Aging highlights that this disease can also be classified as a brain disorder. For most people who have this disease, signs, and symptoms appear gradually rather than all at once. For many, one of the first signs is “a barely noticeable tremor” that occurs in only one hand. While many people with Parkinson’s disease experience tremors, the nervous system disorder can also result in stiffness or a slowing of a person’s movements. Many people, especially older adults who are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, will have problems with balance and coordination, increasing the risk of a serious fall. 

Generally speaking, Parkinson’s disease does not have a cure. However, people who have been diagnosed with the disease may be able to take medications that can improve some of the symptoms. In certain cases, a healthcare provider may even recommend surgery “to regulate certain regions of your brain and improve your symptoms.” 

Common Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease

The Mayo Clinic identifies the following as some of the most common signs of Parkinson’s disease, noting that these signs and symptoms typically begin on just one side of the body before gradually affecting both sides of the body: 

  • Tremors: people usually notice tremors or shaking in a limb, in the hand, or in the fingers. Sometimes people experience what is known as a “pill-rolling tremor,” or rubbing the thumb and forefinger in a back-and-forth motion.
  • Slowed movement: this symptom is also known as bradykinesia, and it refers to the slowing of physical movements. For example, a person’s steps can become shorter, making it more difficult to walk. Or, for instance, a person may have difficulty getting out of a sitting position in a chair.
  • Rigidity in the muscles: Parkinson’s disease frequently causes muscle stiffness in many different parts of the body. In some cases, muscle rigidity can be painful.
  • Posture problems: typically a stooped posture or balance problems can result from Parkinson’s disease.
  • Difficulty performing automatic movements: when a person has Parkinson’s disease, she or he can have difficulty performing—or complete loss of—automatic or unconscious movements. For example, the disease can make it difficult to blink, to smile, or to swing your arms while walking.
  • Changes in speech: with Parkinson’s, a person can experience varied speech changes, such as talking more softly, speaking more quickly, slurring words, or hesitating prior to talking. In some cases, patients do not exhibit any of these symptoms but do have a change in the inflections of their voice, speaking in a more monotone fashion.
  • Difficulty writing: often, Parkinson’s disease makes it difficult to write. For some people, their writing can appear smaller on the page.

Parkinson’s Disease and the Elderly

As the National Institute on Aging clarifies, a clear risk factor for Parkinson’s disease is age. To be sure, most people who develop this disease begin showing signs around the age of 60. Although there are instances of “early-onset” Parkinson’s disease before the age of 50, this is relatively rare. Indeed, early-onset Parkinson’s only occurs in about 5 to 10 percent of all diagnosed cases.

With elderly Parkinson’s patients, the disease can significantly impair mobility. Although there is no current cure for this disease, an article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal emphasizes that there have been advancements in managing the disease and that treatment strategies can be tailored individually to patients.

Learn More About Your Options for Managing Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms 

If you suspect you have Parkinson’s disease, it is important to see a healthcare provider in order to be diagnosed properly. If you recently received a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease and have concerns about managing your health at home, especially if you are struggling with walking and balance issues, United Energy Workers Healthcare may be able to provide you with free home healthcare services.