Parkinson’s disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement and leads to shaking, stiffness, and issues with balance, coordination, walking and talking. It is the second most common age-related nerve degenerating disease, with Alzheimer’s disease being the first.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms are gradual, sometimes beginning with a very slight tremor, which may get more pronounced and worsen over time. People with Parkinson’s disease also may experience mental and behavioral changes, problems with sleep and memory, fatigue, and depression.
Other symptoms some people may experience are impaired balance, lack of coordination, reduced sense of smell, rigidity of the limbs, difficulties with urination, increased salivation and sweating, or gradual loss of spontaneous movement.
There are also a few non-movement symptoms, such as fatigue, irregular blood pressure, and sudden drops in blood pressure when an affected person stands up from sitting or lying-down, which may be caused when nerve endings are lost.
Who is affected?
Parkinson’s disease is usually considered a disease mostly affecting seniors, as most people first diagnosed with it are around the age of 60, however a small percentage of the population under the age of 50 is diagnosed with Parkinson’s which is referred to in that age group as “early-onset”. Only 5% of all cases of Parkinson’s disease are diagnosed before the age of 60.
Age is a clear risk factor, but it is believed that cases of early-onset may often be inherited as some forms have been linked to gene mutations. Most cases of the disease seem to be randomly acquired, but many researches now believe that a combination of genetics and exposure to environmental factors, like toxins, are what leads to Parkinson’s disease.
Although the disease strikes both men and women, it is more commonly diagnosed in men with about 50 percent more cases reported.
What is the cause?
When nerve cells in the area of the brain that control movement become impaired and/or die, this can lead to Parkinson’s disease. These nerve cells that usually produce dopamine, a chemical that helps regulate movement, attention, learning, and emotional responses, are unable to keep up with the supply which causes the movement problems that are a common symptom of the disease. Scientists are still unsure what specifically causes the cells that produce dopamine to die.
How is it diagnosed?
Because there are no medical tests to definitively detect the disease, and symptoms can often be subtle and be confused with the normal signs of aging, it can be difficult to diagnose Parkinson’s disease accurately. Seniors receiving home care often have other complex medical issues which could have similar symptoms, so it is important to discuss any health concerns or new changes with your senior’s doctor.
If you or your senior’s home care aides notice changes such as their face lacking expression, or their inability to move a limb like usual, contact a health care practitioner right away.
What is the prognosis?
There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, however there are certain medications, surgical interventions, and other therapies that may relieve some of the symptoms that your loved one may be experiencing. Talk to their doctor to find the best plan of treatment for them.
If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring Home Care Services in Cotati CA, call At Your Service Home Care. Call today! (707) 573-1003
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