Early Warning Signs Of Parkinsons Disease
Signs vary from person to person, and some patients dont experience any early warning signs. However, early symptoms include:
1. Tremors: While most people are familiar with the shaking that comes along with this illness, it usually starts with less noticeable tremors. It could be just a finger, or the chin before it overtakes the hands or face.
2. Interrupted Sleep: Parkinsons Disease can first present with sudden jerking movements when laying down to sleep. These movements can result in frequent disruptions in sleep throughout the night subsequently causing the patient to be exhausted during waking hours.
3. Difficulties When Writing: If once upon a time, you could write without any issues, but now getting the words on paper is burdensome or if youve noticed significant differences in your handwriting, this is cause for concern.
4. Stooped Posture: Parkinsons will often make it difficult to stand up straight. While by itself, poor posture is not necessarily a sign of PD, coupled with some of the other symptoms on this list, its a red flag.
5. Walking Becomes Difficult: Walking is something that most people take for granted until this most mundane of activities becomes painful. Whether its hard to move your arms as you walk, or your legs feel stiff, or you are taking small shuffling steps, these are early signs of PD.
7. Limited Range of Motion: This is due to constant muscle stiffness, even if you havent changed your daily routines.
Benefits Of Home Care For Seniors With Parkinsons Disease
Finding out your aging parent is suffering from Parkinsons disease is a truly life-changing moment for your parent and for you as their family caregiver.
You suddenly find yourself at the beginning of what will likely be an extremely challenging care journey characterized by a wide variety of symptoms and limitations that can change quickly and without warning.
You know that much of what you thought about your future and the future of your aging parent, or what you planned for the care you were going to give them is no longer applicable and you will need to change your approach to handle what they go through as they move through this disease.
As you are dealing with this news and preparing yourself for the challenges that lay ahead for your parent and for you, one of the best decisions you can make for them is to start home care services. Having an elderly home care services provider in the home with your parent from as early as possible in the disease can make a tremendous difference in your parents quality of life, health, and well-being throughout the progression.
Some benefits of starting home care services for a senior in the early stages of Parkinsons disease include:
How Do I Prevent Falls From Common Hazards
- Floors: Remove all loose wires, cords, and throw rugs. Minimize clutter. Make sure rugs are anchored and smooth. Keep furniture in its usual place.
- Bathroom: Install grab bars and non-skid tape in the tub or shower. Use non-skid bath mats on the floor or install wall-to-wall carpeting.
- Lighting: Make sure halls, stairways, and entrances are well-lit. Install a night light in your bathroom or hallway and staircase. Turn lights on if you get up in the middle of the night. Make sure lamps or light switches are within reach of the bed if you have to get up during the night.
- Kitchen: Install non-skid rubber mats near the sink and stove. Clean spills immediately.
- Stairs: Make sure treads, rails, and rugs are secure. Install a rail on both sides of the stairs. If stairs are a threat, it might be helpful to arrange most of your activities on the lower level to reduce the number of times you must climb the stairs.
- Entrances and doorways: Install metal handles on the walls adjacent to the doorknobs of all doors to make it more secure as you travel through the doorway.
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What Are The Early Signs Of Parkinsons Disease
Parkinsons disease is a neurodegenerative disease affecting the motor abilities of a patient. The early signs of Parkinsons disease are normally related to the motor functions, which may be voluntary or involuntary in nature. Such symptoms usually start on the one part of the body which are initially mild, and progresses over the period of time. The early signs of Parkinsons disease include-
Tremors:Tremors originating in fingers, hands, feet, arms, jaw, legs or head. Such tremors are seen to occur most often while the patient is resting. These tremors might worsen when the patient gets excited, stressed or tired.
Rigidity: A pattern of stiffness or rigidity is seen in the trunk & limbs which might increase in case of movement. Such rigidity might produce muscle aches & pain.
Micrographia: Loss of fine motor skills may lead to sloppy handwriting which may be difficult to read. Such condition is called micrographia. Patient may also find it difficult to eat.
Loss of Movement: Progressive dullness of voluntary movement which may result in difficulty to initiate movement and to even complete a movement gradually.
Loss of Reflexes: Impairment or loss of reflexes to adjust the posture and maintain balance.
Parkinsonian Gait: Patients are seen to develop a distinctive form of walking characterized by shuffling and stooping with absent or diminished arm swing. This type of walking is called Parkinsonian gait. Sufferers may freeze and appear to fall forward while walking.
Small Or Cramped Handwriting
Although handwriting can change as you get older, it can also be an early sign of Parkinsons. About half of people with Parkinsons have small handwriting, called micrographia, as one of their symptoms. It can be a result of bradykinesia, which causes movements to slow down, but it may also appear when bradykinesia isnt present. Micrographia can also be a result of tremors.
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Managing Depression In Parkinsons Disease
People with Parkinsons, family members and caregivers may not always recognize the signs of depression and anxiety. If you are experiencing depression as a symptom of Parkinsons, it is important to know it can be treated.
Here are some suggestions:
- For information and support on living well with Parkinsons disease, contact our Information and Referral line.
- As much as possible, remain socially engaged and physically active. Resist the urge to isolate yourself.
- You may want to consult a psychologist and there are medications that help relieve depression in people with Parkinsons, including nortriptyline and citalopram .
Research And Statistics: Who Has Parkinsons Disease
According to the Parkinsons Foundation, nearly 1 million people in the United States are living with the disease. More than 10 million people worldwide have Parkinsons.
About 4 percent of people with Parkinsons are diagnosed before age 50.
Men are 1.5 times more likely to develop the disease than women.
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What Are The Different Stages Of Parkinsons Disease
Each person with Parkinsons disease experiences symptoms in in their own unique way. Not everyone experiences all symptoms of Parkinsons disease. You may not experience symptoms in the same order as others. Some people may have mild symptoms others may have intense symptoms. How quickly symptoms worsen also varies from individual to individual and is difficult to impossible to predict at the outset.
In general, the disease progresses from early stage to mid-stage to mid-late-stage to advanced stage. This is what typically occurs during each of these stages:
Early symptoms of Parkinsons disease are usually mild and typically occur slowly and do not interfere with daily activities. Sometimes early symptoms are not easy to detect or you may think early symptoms are simply normal signs of aging. You may have fatigue or a general sense of uneasiness. You may feel a slight tremor or have difficulty standing.
Often, a family member or friend notices some of the subtle signs before you do. They may notice things like body stiffness or lack of normal movement slow or small handwriting, lack of expression in your face, or difficulty getting out of a chair.
Standing and walking are becoming more difficult and may require assistance with a walker. You may need full time help to continue to live at home.
Do People Actually Lose Their Sense Of Smell With Parkinsons
A: Yes. Its a condition called anosmia, and if you have it with no other disease , you have at least a 50 percent chance of developing Parkinsons disease in the next five to 10 years. What happens is that alpha-synuclein, the protein that clumps in the part of the brain that regulates dopamine and leads to Parkinsons disease, also aggregates in the olfactory bulb, the part of the brain responsible for your sense of smell. This happens well before the protein accumulations cause motor symptoms.
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Depression And Anxiety Are Also Early Warning Signs Of Parkinson’s How So
A: Like the other symptoms discussed here, late-onset depression and anxiety are nonmotor prodromal manifestations of the condition. It’s not that everyone who is depressed will get Parkinson’s, and the numbers are lower than they are for symptoms like anosmia and REM behavior disorder. But the link is important to explore, and we are doing more research on it all the time.
Stooping Or Hunching Over
Are you not standing up as straight as you used to? If you or your family or friends notice that you seem to be stooping, leaning or slouching when you stand, it could be a sign of Parkinson’s disease .
What is normal?If you have pain from an injury or if you are sick, it might cause you to stand crookedly. Also, a problem with your bones can make you hunch over.
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Beyond Smell: Early Signs Of Parkinsons Disease
Many people also experience a gradually softening voice, speaking at a lower tone without being aware or purposeful about it. While this might seem part of aging, its not. It is, though, one of the early signs of Parkinsons disease.
Has your spouse or friend accused you of always looking depressed or angry, even when youre not? Unfortunately, facial maskingwhich is the rigidity of facial musclesis another of the early signs of Parkinsons disease. Like the other early signs of Parkinsons disease, this hardening of the facial muscles may seem to come and go.
Still more early signs of Parkinsons disease include the following conditions.
How Is Parkinsons Disease Diagnosed
Diagnosing Parkinsons disease is sometimes difficult, since early symptoms can mimic other disorders and there are no specific blood or other laboratory tests to diagnose the disease. Imaging tests, such as CT or MRI scans, may be used to rule out other disorders that cause similar symptoms.
To diagnose Parkinsons disease, you will be asked about your medical history and family history of neurologic disorders as well as your current symptoms, medications and possible exposure to toxins. Your doctor will look for signs of tremor and muscle rigidity, watch you walk, check your posture and coordination and look for slowness of movement.
If you think you may have Parkinsons disease, you should probably see a neurologist, preferably a movement disorders-trained neurologist. The treatment decisions made early in the illness can affect the long-term success of the treatment.
Seven Signs Of Early Onset Of Parkinsons
There are a number of symptoms that can warn us about early onset of Parkinsons. There are several characters, but we will focus on these seven:
- Sleep disorders. The most common sleep disorders are insomnia , restless legs syndrome and REM sleep behavior syndrome.
- Depression. It is one of the first symptoms that occurs and it is actually considered as an early indicator of this disease.
- Other mood swings. In addition to depressive symptoms, anxiety and apathy are very common. These symptoms can affect the desire to seek help and a solution in a negative way.
- Cognitive changes. Many people with early-onset Parkinsons usually find it difficult to do more than one thing at a time. Poor performance of tasks, slow thinking, difficulty focusing and concentrating, memory problems and dementia are all symptoms of early onset of Parkinsons.
- Tremors. Although they usually begin in the hands, they start in other patients in the jaw or in the feet. The most characteristic of these tremors is that they occur when resting.
- Bradykinesi. This is a gradual loss of spontaneous movement. In general, movements simply become slower. This is one of the most debilitating and frustrating symptoms for the people affected.
- Exhaustion. With early onset of Parkinsons, the patient feels tired all the time without having exhausted himself.
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Stiffness In Walking Or Movements
People often experience stiffness that is not due to exercise or lack of exercise. Some people have mentioned that they feel like their feet are stuck to the floor.
The person may start taking smaller steps or dragging or shuffling their feet. They also may have difficulty gauging the size of steps to take. And things like the length of their stride can cause people to trip and fall.
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Stage One Of Parkinsons Disease
In stage one, the earliest stage, the symptoms of PD are mild and only seen on one side of the body , and there is usually minimal or no functional impairment.
The symptoms of PD at stage one may be so mild that the person doesnt seek medical attention or the physician is unable to make a diagnosis. Symptoms at stage one may include tremor, such as intermittent tremor of one hand, rigidity, or one hand or leg may feel more clumsy than another, or one side of the face may be affected, impacting the expression.
This stage is very difficult to diagnose and a physician may wait to see if the symptoms get worse over time before making a formal diagnosis.
How To Cope Up With Parkinsons Disease
Parkinsons disease is progressive and eventually affects every aspect of life from social engagements to work and normal life routines. The gradual loss of independence may be difficult, but being well informed about the disease may reduce the anxiety to a large extent. There are various support groups that offer valuable information to the patients with such disease and how to cope with the same. These groups provide emotional support and also advice the patients with regard to finding experienced doctors, therapists and other related information.
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Medicines For Parkinson’s Disease
Medicines prescribed for Parkinson’s include:
- Drugs that increase the level of dopamine in the brain
- Drugs that affect other brain chemicals in the body
- Drugs that help control nonmotor symptoms
The main therapy for Parkinson’s is levodopa, also called L-dopa. Nerve cells use levodopa to make dopamine to replenish the brain’s dwindling supply. Usually, people take levodopa along with another medication called carbidopa. Carbidopa prevents or reduces some of the side effects of levodopa therapysuch as nausea, vomiting, low blood pressure, and restlessnessand reduces the amount of levodopa needed to improve symptoms.
People with Parkinson’s should never stop taking levodopa without telling their doctor. Suddenly stopping the drug may have serious side effects, such as being unable to move or having difficulty breathing.
Other medicines used to treat Parkinsons symptoms include:
- Dopamine agonists to mimic the role of dopamine in the brain
- MAO-B inhibitors to slow down an enzyme that breaks down dopamine in the brain
- COMT inhibitors to help break down dopamine
- Amantadine, an old antiviral drug, to reduce involuntary movements
- Anticholinergic drugs to reduce tremors and muscle rigidity
Where To Get More Information
- If you’re experiencing any symptoms and are concerned, see your GP.
- To learn more about Parkinson’s disease and to find support, visit Parkinson’s Australia or call the Info Line on 1800 644 189.
- The Shake It Up Australia Foundation partners with The Michael J. Fox Foundation to help raise awareness and funds for Parkinson’s disease research.
- The Garvan Institute of Medical Research is working hard to find ways to diagnose Parkinson’s earlier and repurpose existing drugs to slow its progress. Find out more here.
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Stages Of Parkinsons Disease
Neurologists usually describe the progression of Parkinsons symptoms in stages, using the system known as the Hoehn and Yahr scale. These stages are:
- Stage I Symptoms are seen on one side of the body only.
- Stage II Symptoms are seen on both sides of the body. Theres no impairment of balance.
- Stage III Balance impairment has begun. In this mild- to moderate stage of the disease, the person is still physically independent.
- Stage IV This stage is marked by severe disability, but the person is still able to walk or stand unassisted.
- Stage V The person is wheelchair-bound or bedridden unless assisted.
Trouble Moving Or Walking
Do you feel stiff in your body, arms or legs? Have others noticed that your arms dont swing like they used to when you walk? Sometimes stiffness goes away as you move. If it does not, it can be a sign of Parkinson’s disease. An early sign might be stiffness or pain in your shoulder or hips. People sometimes say their feet seem stuck to the floor.
What is normal?If you have injured your arm or shoulder, you may not be able to use it as well until it is healed, or another illness like arthritis might cause the same symptom.
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What Are The Secondary Signs Of Parkinsons Disease
The primary symptoms of the Parkinsons disease have to be obviously movement related and lose of muscles control. Since it is a neurodegenerative disease, continued destruction to brain leads to secondary signs which varies in severity and people-
- Feelings of insecurity, anxiety and stress.
- Loss of memory, confusion and dementia.
- Speech problems.