A Parkinson’s disease diagnosis impacts family members in addition to the person diagnosed. Understanding what to expect as the disease progresses is vital to being prepared for the changes in the future and also to make life the best it can be each day.

Over the next month or two, we’ll be discussing what to anticipate in each stage of Parkinson’s disease, including what family care providers can do to best help a loved one with Parkinson’s, and how Absolute Companion Care, a provider of home care in Harford County and nearby areas, can help. Read part 2 and part 3 in this series.

Early Stage Parkinson’s Disease

Each person experiences Parkinson’s in different ways, but in general, the initial stage symptoms are relatively mild, and most experience no functional impairment. One side of the body is usually impacted first, with occasional tremors and/or stiffness in one hand or leg or expression changes in one part of the face.

As the illness continues through the first stage, both sides of the body will experience these changes. This development could take months or possibly even years. While balance is still usually not impaired at this point, other changes can include:

  • A softer tone of voice, or one which begins loud but fades in volume as the person keeps talking
  • Slurred speech
  • Decreased blinking along with other facial expression changes
  • An overall sluggishness in performing day-to-day activities
  • Increased stiffness and/or rigidity in muscles
  • Pain in the neck or back
  • An increasingly stooped posture

The Effect of Early Stage Parkinson’s on Family Care Providers

The initial diagnosis and early stage can be a difficult time for both the person with the disease and close loved ones. Taking time to sort out these emotions is very important, through professional counseling, talking with a clergy member or close friend, journaling, and exploring Parkinson’s support groups, either virtual or in person.

While hands-on care is normally not necessary (or welcomed) at this stage, it is a good time for you to start to put a strategy in place for the changes to come. For instance, think through whether you can work outside the home as the disease becomes more serious, or if you want to provide full-time care. Will the person diagnosed choose to remain at home throughout the progression of the disease, or to enter a care facility? Who can become part of your support network to let you take regular breaks for self-care and to attend to shopping, housework, preparing meals, and the other essential daily tasks?

Absolute Companion Care’s award-winning senior care experts are here to partner with you through each stage of Parkinson’s. We can help you develop a practical plan of care that will guarantee all needs are met now, and as they change as in the future.

It’s important to remember that caregiving should never be a solo undertaking. Call us at 410-357-9640 for a complimentary in-home assessment or for more information about our home care in Harford County and surrounding communities. We love to share more about how we can ease the transitions through Parkinson’s for both you and the older adult you love.