Even though nearly one million people are living with Parkinson’s disease in 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 breakthroughs in research and awareness that were previously unmatched, providing us with hope for a future cure.
In the meantime, it is important to understand the early signs of Parkinson’s, in order to receive a prompt diagnosis and the earliest possible treatment and intervention. Morning Glory Home Care’s Alton elder care team has the essential information you need.
What Is Parkinson’s?
Parkinson’s disease is a brain disorder that affects a senior’s balance, coordination, and movement through tremors and progressive muscle stiffness and rigidity. Although the exact cause is unknown, researchers believe that contributing factors are both environmental and genetic. It also typically impacts adults ages 60 and older, however early onset Parkinson’s can develop prior to age 50. Additionally, we 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 eating and speaking, sleeping pattern changes, skin problems, and more.
The Early 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 start to write much smaller, 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 often accompanies Parkinson’s; however, it is not always recognizable to the person with the condition. She or he 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 someone who appears to always have a serious or depressed facial expression, is common in Parkinson’s.
- Changes in posture. Look for a stooped or leaning posture when standing, along with a stiffness in the arms and legs when the person is walking. One quick method to evaluate this is by watching to see if the person’s arms swing naturally when walking. She or he may have a tendency to lean forward.
- Changes in sleeping. Someone with Parkinson’s may flail his or her arms and legs and make other sudden 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 a person you love, as well as the hallmark signs of tremors and rigidity, contact his/her physician as soon as possible for a complete assessment. Then get in touch with Morning Glory Home Care for additional resources pertaining to Parkinson’s and in-home supportive services to help make life safer and more comfortable throughout the progression of the disease. You can email or call us any time at 618-667-8400 for more information about our award-winning elder care in Alton, IL and nearby areas, and to schedule a complimentary in-home consultation.