Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative neurological disorder that affects approximately 1 million people in the United States. The cause of Parkinson’s disease is unknown, but it is often believed to be related to a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
The disease is characterized by tremors, rigidity, and postural instability and can lead to problems with balance, coordination, and mobility (motor symptoms, non-motor symptoms, other movement-related symptoms, and more). Parkinson’s disease is progressive, meaning that it typically worsens over time. There is no specific cure for Parkinson’s disease, but there are treatments that can help to relieve early stages and improve quality of life.
Memory care facilities and home health care services can be beneficial for people living with Parkinson’s disease. Memory care facilities provide a safe and supportive environment for people with memory impairments, while home health care services can help to ensure that people with Parkinson’s disease receive the best care and support they need in their own homes.
Here are some of the early symptoms of Parkinson’s disease:
Tremors or shaking
One of the most wince-inducing symptoms of Parkinson’s disease is the tremor. It can start gradually, often in just one hand, and then spread to the other side of the body as the disease progresses. The tremor may be most noticeable when the affected person is resting, and it can be mild or severe. In some cases, the tremor can be so severe that it interferes with daily life.
With Parkinson’s disease, the tremor may be accompanied by a sense of inner restlessness, known as kinesia. This can make it hard to sit still for a long time or to keep your body in one position. To counteract the effects of kinesia, people with Parkinson’s disease may try to freeze in place or hold their bodies rigid.
Rigidity or stiffness of the body, arms, or legs
Rigidity or stiffness is one of the symptoms commonly associated with Parkinson’s disease. This symptom is typically characterized by a person’s inability to move their limbs or joints fluidly and effortlessly, often feeling as if they are frozen in place. In some cases, this rigidity may be accompanied by pain or discomfort, making it even more difficult to move.
There are various factors contributing to rigidity in people with Parkinson’s disease, including changes in the brain that result from the loss of dopamine-producing cells. These changes interfere with the connection between different regions of the brain and can lead to disorganized movement patterns and muscle stiffness.
In addition to affecting movement, rigidity can also impact a person’s quality of life by limiting their independence and making everyday activities such as dressing, eating, and grooming more challenging.
Slowness of movement
Parkinson’s disease can also cause a person’s movements to slow down, a condition known as bradykinesia. This symptom is often one of the 1st signs of Parkinson’s disease, and it can be mild or severe. In some cases, bradykinesia may make it too hard for a person to initiate movement, resulting in a loss of spontaneity and a decrease in overall activity levels.
Bradykinesia can also make it difficult to perform activities of daily living, such as getting dressed or brushing your teeth. In some cases, the slowness of movement may be so severe that it interferes with a person’s ability to speak or swallow.
Changes in handwriting
Changes in handwriting can be an early symptom of Parkinson’s disease, a chronic condition that the disease affects the nerve cells in the brain and leads to a range of symptoms, including tremors, stiffness, and other movement problems. In many cases, changes in handwriting are one of the first signs that someone has Parkinson’s disease.
The exact mechanisms underlying these changes are not fully understood, but they may be related to some of the specific brain changes that occur with this condition. For example, Parkinson’s is often associated with a reduction in dopamine levels in the brain cells, which can lead to disruptions in areas involving fine motor control, like handwriting.
Other factors may also play a role, such as reduced muscle tone or coordination issues that make it harder to control movements like writing. These changes may be subtle at first, progressing gradually over time as the disease progresses and gets worse.
Difficulty with balance and coordination
This symptom can start out slowly, developing gradually over time as the disease progresses. Oftentimes, people who are experiencing issues with balance or coordination will begin to compensate in order to prevent falls or other problems.
For example, they may adopt a more rigid gait in order to minimize their risk of losing their balance or slipping on an uneven surface.
When this symptom becomes more severe, it can lead to a greater risk of falls and make everyday activities like walking or climbing stairs more difficult. In some cases, difficulty with balance and coordination may also be accompanied by other symptoms like dizziness or lightheadedness.
Changes in speech
This is due to a disruption in the brain’s and nervous system’s normal functioning, which can affect various aspects of speech production, including volume, speed, and clarity.
Common early signs observed in people with Parkinson’s disease often include slurred speech or difficulty finding words. These changes may also manifest as a soft or breathy voice, monotonous tone, or reduced volume. In addition, some people with Parkinson’s may experience problems with articulation and word pronunciation, as well as issues with swallowing or breathing.
Some factors contributing to speech-related changes in Parkinson’s disease include damage to certain areas of the brain that are responsible for motor control and movement coordination, declining levels of dopamine (a neurotransmitter involved in controlling movement), and gastrointestinal complications that impact the way food moves through the body.
Depression and anxiety
Depression and anxiety are common early symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, typically appearing in the first few years after diagnosis. These symptoms can intensify over time as the condition progresses and may significantly interfere with a person’s ability to function normally and enjoy life.
Some of the potential causes of depression or anxiety include changes in brain chemistry, disrupted sleep cycles, social isolation, stress, and side effects from medications used to treat the condition.
There are various different strategies that people with Parkinson’s disease can use to manage their depression and anxiety. These may include talk therapy or counseling, exercise programs, diet changes, relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or guided imagery, or medication such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications. It is vital to work closely with your doctor, who can determine which strategies will be most effective for you.
One of the most distinctive and well-known symptoms of Parkinson’s disease is a condition called “masked face.” This is when the facial muscles become slack and droopy, giving the person a blank or expressionless appearance.
The cause of masked face in Parkinson’s disease is not fully understood yet, but it is thought to be related to changes in the nervous system that affect the facial muscles.
The masked face is usually most pronounced when a person is experiencing emotions like sadness or anxiety and can become more severe over time as the disease progresses.
While there is no cure for masked faces, there are treatments that can help improve the appearance of the condition. These may include botulinum toxin injections, which can help to relax the facial muscles temporarily, or surgery to correct drooping eyelids.
Lack of sleep
Sleep problems and sleep disorders are often one of the earliest symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, as it can be a sign that the body’s dopamine levels are starting to fall. This decrease in dopamine leads to an impairment in motor control, which can make it difficult for people with Parkinson’s to sleep soundly or restfully at night.
There are a number of strategies that people with Parkinson’s can use to try and combat this symptom. Some may find that using medications such as sedatives or non-habit-forming sleep aids can help them to get a better night’s sleep. Others may choose to adopt more relaxing nighttime routines, such as taking hot baths or reading before bed, instead of working on their computers or watching television.
While these symptoms may not be immediately life-threatening, they can significantly reduce the life quality for people with Parkinson’s disease. It is essential to consult with your doctor if you are experiencing any of these symptoms so that you can be ready for developing Parkinson’s disease treatment plan that is right for you.
The Club: A Community Where We Care For Those With Parkinson’s Disease
The Club at Boynton Beach provides memory care that is designed to make each resident feel comfortable, respected, and dignified. We understand how difficult it can be for families when a loved one has Parkinson’s or another form of dementia, so we provide the support they need to help their family members in a way that honors their individual experiences and needs.
With many years of experience, our team members have the knowledge and skills to provide care that is both compassionate and professional. We offer a range of memory care services tailored to meet the unique needs of each resident, and we work closely with families to make sure that they are involved in the care process as much or as little as they would like to be.