Despite the fact that 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 advancements in awareness and research, which were previously unheard of, giving us hope for a future cure.
In the meantime, it’s important to know the early warning signs of Parkinson’s disease in order to receive a timely diagnosis and the earliest possible treatment and intervention. Absolute Companion Care, a top provider of home care in Timonium and the surrounding areas, has the important information you need.
What Is Parkinson’s?
Parkinson’s disease is a brain disorder that affects an individual’s coordination, balance, and movement through tremors and progressive muscle stiffness and rigidity. While the precise cause is unknown, researchers believe that contributing factors are both environmental and genetic. It also usually impacts adults ages 60 and older, but early onset Parkinson’s can occur before age 50. Additionally, 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 (for example, depression), issues with speaking and eating, sleeping pattern changes, skin problems, and others.
The Early Warning Signs of Parkinson’s Disease
In the very early stages associated with the disease, there are a number of red flags that can be detected, such as:
- Changes in handwriting. Specifically, an individual with Parkinson’s will start to write much smaller, along 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 dill pickles, bananas, and licorice.
- Changes in speaking. A hoarse tone or softer voice frequently accompanies Parkinson’s, but 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 stooped or leaning posture when standing, along with a stiffness in the arms and legs when the individual is walking. One quick way to evaluate 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. Someone with Parkinson’s may flail his or her arms and legs and also make other sudden movements while asleep. These movements can be troublesome 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 hallmark signs and symptoms of tremors and rigidity, contact his or her medical doctor at your earliest convenience for a full evaluation. Then call on Absolute Companion Care for further 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 410-357-9640 to learn more about our award-winning home care in Timonium and the surrounding areas, and to schedule a free in-home consultation.