What Is Parkinson's Disease?

An older man wonders, “What is Parkinson’s disease?” at laptop.

A diagnosis of Parkinson's disease is life-changing and raises many questions. What is Parkinson’s disease? What symptoms are expected in each stage? How will everyday life be affected? In honor of Parkinson’s Awareness Month, CareTime, American, Advocate, and Whitsyms In-Home Care offer the following information to help families provide the best care for a loved one at all stages of the disease.

What Is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s occurs when dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for transmitting signals in the brain, is deficient. This reduction in dopamine levels leads to the manifestation of various symptoms that can impact a person's daily life.

What Are Some of the Common Symptoms of Parkinson’s?

Symptoms vary from one person to another but commonly include:

  1. Tremors: One of the most recognizable symptoms of Parkinson's is tremors, involuntary shaking movements, usually starting in the hands or fingers.
  2. Bradykinesia: This refers to slowness of movement, making routine tasks more time-consuming and challenging.
  3. Rigidity: Stiffness in the limbs and joints can make it difficult for individuals with Parkinson's to maintain their range of motion.
  4. Postural Instability: People with Parkinson's may experience difficulty maintaining balance and are more prone to falls.
  5. Changes in Handwriting: Known as micrographia, individuals with Parkinson's may notice a decrease in the size of their handwriting.
  6. Speech Changes: Speech may become softer or more monotone, and articulation may be affected.

What Can Be Expected in Each Stage of the Disease?

Parkinson's disease progresses gradually, and its stages are often categorized to help understand its impact on an individual's life.

  1. Stage One: Mild Symptoms
    • During the initial stage, symptoms are mild and may not interfere significantly with daily activities.
    • Tremors and other motor symptoms are noticeable but do not impede functionality.
  2. Stage Two: Moderate Symptoms
    • Symptoms become more pronounced, including tremors, stiffness, and bradykinesia.
    • Daily activities require more effort, but individuals can still live independently.
  3. Stage Three: Significant Impairment
    • This stage brings an increase in bradykinesia, rigidity, and instability.
    • Independence becomes more challenging and falls become more frequent.
  4. Stage Four: Severe Symptoms
    • Individuals often require assistance with daily activities and may be unable to live independently.
    • Rigidity and bradykinesia are severe, and falls are more frequent.
  5. Stage Five: Advanced Symptoms
    • At this stage, individuals are typically unable to walk or stand.
    • Around-the-clock assistance is necessary for all daily activities.

How a Referred Care Provider Can Help Someone Better Manage Parkinson’s

Understanding the progression of Parkinson's disease is crucial for tailoring home care services to the specific needs of each individual. Here are ways a referred care provider from CareTime, American, Advocate, and Whitsyms In-Home Care can support individuals at different stages:

  1. Assistance With Daily Activities: In the early stages, a referred care provider can offer support with tasks that may become challenging, such as meal preparation, light housekeeping, and medication reminders.
  2. Mobility Assistance: As the disease progresses, assistance with mobility becomes essential. A care professional can help with transfers, provide mobility aids, and ensure safety within the home.
  3. Fall Prevention: In later stages, the risk of falls increases significantly. A referred care provider can implement measures to minimize fall risks, such as removing tripping hazards and assisting with walking and transfers.
  4. Emotional Support: Parkinson's not only affects the body but also takes a toll on mental and emotional well-being. A referred care provider can offer companionship, emotional support, and assistance with coping strategies.

Contact us today to learn more about how home care services can help someone you love live a better quality of life with Parkinson’s disease or any other chronic health condition. Click the link to the location nearest you below:

State of Florida License and Registration Numbers: 30211518, 30211651, 30211295, 30211390, 30210978, 30211293, 30211382, 30211504, 30211733, 30211535, 30211531, 30211710, 30211709, 30211045, 30211751