Aging at Home Caregiving

Facts About Parkinson’s Disease for Seniors and Caregivers

How much do you know about Parkinson’s disease, or PD?

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive movement disorder that currently affects approximately 1 million people, just in the United States. While four percent of PD patients are diagnosed before the age of 50, it is common for diagnosis to occur beyond that age, with the risk of developing the condition steadily with age. 

Though medications are prescribed to treat symptoms that become apparent to both patients and caregivers, it is still helpful to know the essentials about Parkinson’s, so you can help your loved one when symptoms are early.

Stages of Parkinson’s Disease

There are at least five identified stages of Parkinson’s disease, although everybody with the condition experiences it differently. Some seniors can skip a stage or two, while others show symptoms associated with the advanced stages before they are showing early stage symptoms. 

The five identified stages of PD are:

  • Stage One – Tremors and shaking (usually mild and often relegated to one limb)
  • Stage Two – Symptoms that affect both sides of the body
  • Stage Three – Noticeable slowing of physical movements (often includes increased difficulty walking, assistance with daily tasks is usually a necessity at this point)
  • Stage Four – Visible muscle rigidity and slowness of movement (for an unknown reason, tremors often become less severe or disappear during this stage)
  • Stage Five – Difficulty standing, walking, and completing daily tasks (in-home Parkinson’s care and supervision is needed at this stage)

An important note to remember: The risk of falling is greater in the last two stages. If your senior loved one has Parkinson’s do what you can to keep the home as “senior-proof” and risk-free as possible.

Essential Facts About Parkinson's

No Known Direct Cause of Parkinson’s

What is the direct cause of Parkinson’s? 

Though it’s known that cells producing the chemical dopamine dwindle in the brains of seniors with PD, there is no known direct cause of the condition. 

However, there are a few theories that circulate around this disease. Most theories include a possible hereditary link, or environmental influences like exposure to certain toxins or chemicals.

Medications

Fortunately, for those who are diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, there are a few helpful medications that can be prescribed. These medications are prescribed and adjusted based on the symptoms presented. 

Common medications prescribed for PD include:

  • Dopamine agonists (includes a powerful and fast-acting injectable that can temporarily relieve symptoms)
  • Levodopa (considered the most effective PD drug)
  • Anticholinergics (eases the effects when medication dosages wear off)

If your loved one is diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, consider consulting with a doctor and ask about these medications.

Physical Therapy and Exercise

Exercise is a great way to maintain strength, flexibility, balance, and cognitive acuity. Staying active, and doing physical therapy are two great ways you can help your loved one work through PD.

Research has shown that exercise can improve gait, balance, grip strength, motor coordination and more – especially if cardio or some type of aerobics is included. 

These aerobic and learning-based exercises will benefit seniors with Parkinson’s the most. Here are some of the best physical activities you can include in your senior’s workout:

  • Movements paced to a rhythmic beat (dancing, walking, etc.)
  • Exaggerated movements to help with gait (playing a musical instrument, yoga, etc.)
  • Water-based exercises (water aerobics, aqua jogging, high knee lift extensions, etc.)

Not only is exercising a great way to stay healthy, but it is also a good way to bond with your loved one and do something fun with them. Take time to exercise with the senior in your life, it really can do amazing things for their health. 

Essential Facts About Parkinson's

Developing Parkinson’s

How do you know if a loved one is more susceptible to Parkinson’s Disease or not?

Unfortunately, there is no test that can detect if someone has Parkinson’s, except for the onset of symptoms becoming noticeable. 

Some studies suggest that men may be 50 percent more likely than women to develop Parkinson’s disease, and although related complications may affect the lifespan of somebody with the disease, Parkinson’s disease itself isn’t fatal.

There are ways you can help your senior loved one work through PD. Through healthy lifestyles, proper medication and more, you can help your senior loved one live a life that is long and happy, despite the diagnosis. 

If your senior loved one has recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, and you aren’t sure what happens next, we encourage you to reach out to Home Care Assistance. As a trusted provider of senior care in Dayton, senior health, wellness, and comfort are our top priorities. Our caregivers are expertly trained to manage a wide range of care needs, including those that accompany advanced conditions. 

Our Care Managers are available 24/7, and we back all care services with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you have questions, or want more information, give us a call at (937) 353-7997

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