What Is The Outlook For Persons With Parkinsons Disease
Although there is no cure or absolute evidence of ways to prevent Parkinsons disease, scientists are working hard to learn more about the disease and find innovative ways to better manage it, prevent it from progressing and ultimately curing it.
Currently, you and your healthcare teams efforts are focused on medical management of your symptoms along with general health and lifestyle improvement recommendations . By identifying individual symptoms and adjusting the course of action based on changes in symptoms, most people with Parkinsons disease can live fulfilling lives.
The future is hopeful. Some of the research underway includes:
- Using stem cells to produce new neurons, which would produce dopamine.
- Producing a dopamine-producing enzyme that is delivered to a gene in the brain that controls movement.
- Using a naturally occurring human protein glial cell-line derived neurotrophic factor, GDNF to protect dopamine-releasing nerve cells.
Many other investigations are underway too. Much has been learned, much progress has been made and additional discoveries are likely to come.
The Role Of Dementia And Age
Dementia also plays an important role in survival with Parkinson’s. By the end of the above study, nearly 70% of the population with Parkinson’s had been diagnosed with dementia, and those with dementia had a lower survival rate as compared to those without.
This means that those with dementia were more likely to die during the six-year period than those without dementia. In addition, scientific studies have shown that increasing age is linked to an increased risk of death.
It’s important to remember that how a person’s Parkinson’s disease manifests and progresses is variable, and a person’s neurologist cannot accurately predict individual life expectancy.
There are simply no key signs or symptoms that allow a doctor to perfectly predict longevity. An older age and the presence of dementia are simply associated with an increased risk of dying.
Facts About Idiopathic Parkinsons
When medical professionals dont know exactly what causes a disease, they refer to it as an idiopathic condition. While some factors increase the risk of developing Parkinsons, scientists still dont know exactly what causes this disease. Most doctors agree that genetics and age are the two biggest risk factors for Parkinsons, but environment seems to play a role as well. Certain environmental toxins and chemicals damage various areas of the brain, which can result in a wide variety of serious medical conditions, including Parkinsons.
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What Are Atypical Parkinsonian Disorders
Atypical Parkinsonian disorders are progressive diseases that present with some of the signs and symptoms of Parkinsons disease, but that generally do not respond well to drug treatment with levodopa. They are associated with abnormal protein buildup within brain cells.
The term refers to several conditions, each affecting particular parts of the brain and showing a characteristic course:
- Dementia with Lewy bodies, characterized by an abnormal accumulation of alpha-synuclein protein in brain cells
- Progressive supranuclear palsy, involving tau protein buildup affecting the frontal lobes, brainstem, cerebellum and substantia nigra
- Multiple system atrophy, another synucleinopathy that affects the autonomic nervous system , substantia nigra and at times the cerebellum
- Corticobasal syndrome, a rare tauopathy that typically affects one side of the body more than the other and makes it difficult for patients to see and navigate through space
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.
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Symptoms Of Atypical Parkinsonism
PD symptoms vary from person to person. Some people have a tremor, usually on one side of the body. Others with PD have muscle freezing or balance difficulties. You might have PD symptoms that are mild for years. Someone else may have symptoms that worsen quickly.
Atypical Parkinsonian syndromes each have their own set of symptoms:
- VP: Gait and balance problems are common symptoms. Dementia, incontinence, and palsy also develop.
- LBD: Thinking and memory decline. Hallucinations, delusions, and difficulty staying alert are also symptoms.
- MSA: Walking and balance problems are common with this condition. You may also have symptoms related to autonomic dysfunction. This is when the autonomic nervous system doesnt function as it should. The ANS controls automatic bodily functions like breathing, digestion, and circulation. These symptoms might include:
- a sudden drop in blood pressure when you stand up
Signs Of Parkinsons Disease
In 1817, Dr. James Parkinson published An Essay on the Shaking Palsy describing non-motor, as well as, motor symptoms of the illness that bears his name. Parkinsons is not just a movement disorder, explained Dr. Shprecher. Constipation, impaired sense of smell, and dream enactment can occur years before motor symptoms of Parkinsons. The latter, caused by a condition called REM sleep behavior disorder, is a very strong risk factor for both Parkinsons and dementia . This has prompted us to join a consortium of centers studying REM sleep behavior disorder.
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Living With Parkinsons Disease
Patients living with PD can take steps to ensure they get quality care from their healthcare team, as well as take good care of themselves.
Staying as active as possible with help from an occupational therapist who can show you how to modify daily activities, eating a healthy and well-balanced diet, and taking medications as prescribed can all help optimize your health and promote well-being. Talking with the doctor about any challenges or concerns can also help you brainstorm solutions to problems or help create a plan to address issues.
Don’t neglect emotional health, as well. Depression and anxiety affect up to half of those living with PD.5
Mood disorders and changes like these can actually worsen symptoms and affect overall health, so proper treatment is crucial. Tell the doctor if youre noticing changes in mood at all, so this can be addressed with treatment, whether its medication, counseling, or both. Spending time with other people friends, family members, activity groups can also help decrease feelings of isolation or loneliness.
Symptoms Of Parkinsons Disease
Image: Sir William Richard Gowers, neurologist, researcher, and artist, drew this illustration in 1886 as part of his documentation of Parkinsons Disease. The image appeared in his book, A Manual of Diseases of the Nervous System, still used today by medical professionals as a primary reference for this disease. By Beao, License: Public domain
The typical clinical triad of Parkinsons disease consists of akinesia, rigor, and tremor. Partially, postural instability is considered as the core symptom. Typically, the tremor is a resting tremor, which initially starts on one side, implying that it manifests asymmetrically.
Depending on the most prominent symptom, one can distinguish between tremor dominant, akinetic-rigid, and equivalent types. In the equivalent type Parkinsons disease, the 3 symptoms of the clinical triad are roughly equally distinct.
Additionally, the patients gait provides the 1st clue. In hypo- or akinesia, the patients gait is marked by small steps and a stooped torso. The arms swing less, usually on one side.
Further symptoms occurring before the onset of classical Parkinsons symptoms include disorders of REM sleep and impaired smell either in the form of hyposmia or anosmia. Pain may involve the shoulder/neck region or the extremities.
As the disease progresses further, vegetative symptoms of psychopathological nature such as frontal dementia or depression can occur.
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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.
Realities Of Living With Parkinsons
Parkinsons disease is unpredictable, so it can be difficult to make any plansbig or smallwithout worrying you have to cancel at the last minute. Living with the painful symptoms, both physical and mental, can be draining.
Daily tasks may require a lot of energy for someone with Parkinson’s disease to complete or are taken away altogether. For example, a person without a chronic disease can drive to the grocery store, come home and do laundry, cook dinner for their family, and still have time to relax at the end of the day. However, a person with Parkinson’s will have to put much more effort and time into each task and may not be able to drive at all.
As the disease progresses to its later stages, many people are forced to give up their independence and autonomy when it comes to taking care of themselves. This makes coping with a diagnosis and the disease incredibly difficult.
However, with the right treatments, you can slow disease progression and remain independent for as long as possible.
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Do Only Old People Get Parkinson’s Disease
Although Parkinson’s disease is much more common in people who are older than age 50, it can affect people of all ages, including even children and teenagers.
Also, just because you’re older, it doesn’t mean you’ll get Parkinson’s most people never get it. Your age is only one factor in your risks for the condition.
The Progression Of Parkinsons
No two cases of Parkinsons disease are the same. One person may progress rapidly, while another may go years before experiencing many symptoms. According to the Parkinsons Foundation, there are five stages of the disease:
- Stage 1 The first stage is when a person begins experiencing tremors and other slight symptoms, usually on one side of the body. They do not affect the ability to take care of him or herself.
- Stage 2 By the second stage, the person may experience the symptoms on both sides of the body, and it could impact the ability to walk safely.
- Stage 3 During the third stage, the person with Parkinsons may find he or she cant move as quickly as before. The individual may also lose his or her balance easily.
- Stage 4 Once the disease progresses to the fourth stage, the person needs help with many activities and is no longer able to live alone.
- Stage 5 Stage five is the most advanced stage, and it can be the roughest on seniors and their caregivers. The senior may become confined to bed, and mental health may be impacted.
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Types Of Parkinsons Disease
Even though there are a few different types of this neurodegenerative disorder, the vast majority of individuals are diagnosed with idiopathic Parkinsons disease. Idiopathic essentially means the cause of the disease is unknown, which can make treating the condition somewhat complex. When a senior is diagnosed with idiopathic Parkinsons disease, the medical team will most likely focus on symptom control. As long as the disease is diagnosed early, the senior might benefit from a wide variety of treatments, from prescription medications to physical therapy.
What Are The Symptoms Of Atypical Parkinsonian Disorders
Like classic Parkinsons disease, atypical Parkinsonian disorders cause muscle stiffness, tremor, and problems with walking/balance and fine motor coordination.
Patients with atypical Parkinsonism often have some degree of difficulty speaking or swallowing, and drooling can be a problem. Psychiatric disturbances such as agitation, anxiety or depression may also be part of the clinical picture.
Dementia with Lewy bodies can cause changes in attention or alertness over hours or days, often with long periods of sleep during the day. Visual hallucinations typically of small animals or children, or moving shadows in the periphery of the visual field are common in DLB. DLB is second only to Alzheimers disease as a cause of dementia in the elderly, and it most commonly affects patients in their 60s.
Patients with progressive supranuclear palsy may have difficulties with eye movements, particularly when looking downward, and with balance when descending stairs, for instance. Backward falls are common and may occur during the early course of the disease. PSP is not usually associated with tremor, unlike Parkinsons disease.
Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Center
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Causes Of Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease is caused by a loss of nerve cells in part of the brain called the substantia nigra. This leads to a reduction in a chemical called dopamine in the brain.
Dopamine plays a vital role in regulating the movement of the body. A reduction in dopamine is responsible for many of the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
Exactly what causes the loss of nerve cells is unclear. Most experts think that a combination of genetic and environmental factors is responsible.
Professional Treatments & Lifestyle Changes
After being diagnosed with Parkinsons, the average person is going to be put on at least one or two medications. These drugs are usually designed to trigger the production of dopamine, which lessens the symptoms. Some seniors also undergo alternative treatments, such as deep brain stimulation, and many of those procedures have very high success rates. In addition to getting professional treatment, seniors with Parkinsons must also dedicate themselves to making healthy lifestyle choices. Exercising, socializing, getting plenty of sleep, and sticking to a nutritious diet can all be very beneficial.
A professional caregiver can be a wonderful source of support for a senior with Parkinsons. Families looking for top-rated senior care providers can reach out to Home Care Assistance. From respite care to specialized Alzheimers, dementia, stroke, and Parkinsons care, there are many ways we can make life easier for seniors and their loved ones. To learn about our high-quality in-home care options, give us a call at 573-4213 today.
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Lifespan Of Those With Parkinson’s
Many people think PD automatically means a shorter lifespan, but this isnt necessarily true. The area is under-researched, and the research that has been done has yielded variable results.
A study done at the Mayo Clinic found that overall, patients with PD had similar lifespans to those without PD, but if PD dementia or dementia with Lewy bodies were present, that did contribute to increased mortality rates.1 For those with typical PD without dementia, compared to the general population, they died approximately a year earlier.1,2 PD is not a direct killer like heart attack, and there are steps individuals can take to help maintain their functioning and health.
What Are The Surgical Treatments For Parkinsons Disease
Most patients with Parkinsons disease can maintain a good quality of life with medications. However, as the disease worsens, medications may no longer be effective in some patients. In these patients, the effectiveness of medications becomes unpredictable reducing symptoms during on periods and no longer controlling symptoms during off periods, which usually occur when the medication is wearing off and just before the next dose is to be taken. Sometimes these variations can be managed with changes in medications. However, sometimes they cant. Based on the type and severity of your symptoms, the failure of adjustments in your medications, the decline in your quality of life and your overall health, your doctor may discuss some of the available surgical options.
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How Does Idiopathic Parkinsons Affect Longevity
By Domenic Maccarone 9 am on July 26, 2019
Idiopathic Parkinsons disease, which is the most common form of Parkinsons, can be a scary diagnosis for seniors and their families. Its one of the most common neurodegenerative disorders in the world and can have a big impact on the ability to remain independent as it progresses. The disease goes through a series of five stages, and scientists are still unclear about exactly what causes it. Learn more about the disease, including what a persons life expectancy is after the diagnosis.
Caring For Your Health With Parkinson’s Disease
In addition to caring for your Parkinson’s health, it is also important to care for your overall health. This means visiting your primary care physician periodically for preventive care like the annual flu shot and cancer screeningsfor example, a mammogram for breast cancer screening and a colonoscopy for colon cancer screening.
A primary care physician can also evaluate for risk factors related to heart attacks and strokes, and provide counseling on exercise, smoking, alcohol use, depression, or other mental health concerns. Regular visits to your primary care physician or neurologist will also allow them to catch bacterial infections like urinary tract infections before they get serious.
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