Parkinson's Awareness Month: Understanding the Early Signs and Symptoms
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Parkinson's Awareness Month: Understanding the Early Signs and Symptoms

April is Parkinson's Disease Awareness Month, and it's an important time to shine a light on this life-altering condition. Understanding the warning signs of Parkinson's disease can put seniors and their caregivers in a better position to identify those symptoms early and get the medical treatment that is needed. Take a look at these early signs and symptoms of Parkinson's and how you can determine whether you or a loved one might need to consult your doctor. 

Understanding Parkinson's

As we delve into the topic of Parkinson's disease, it's essential to understand what it is and how it affects those who live with it. Parkinson's disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement and can cause physical symptoms like tremors, muscle stiffness, and impaired balance. While the exact cause of Parkinson's disease remains unknown, certain genetic and environmental factors are believed to play a role in its development. With over 10 million people worldwide diagnosed with the condition, it's vital to create awareness about the early warning signs of Parkinson’s to facilitate timely intervention.

Noting Early Signs of Parkinson's Disease

When it comes to recognizing the early signs of Parkinson's disease, it's essential to be attentive to your body's changes, particularly to the following: 

Tremor or Shaking

One of the most common early warning signs is tremor or shaking, which may begin mildly and then gradually worsen over time. It usually starts with a slight shaking in the hand, fingers, or even the foot, which may later affect other body parts as the disease progresses.

Changes in Handwriting

A noticeable change in handwriting, often referred to as micrographia, can also serve as an early indicator of Parkinson's. The writing becomes small and cramped, and it's usually one of the first indicators that something isn't quite right. If you notice that your letters have become much smaller or you struggle to write as clearly as before, it's worth getting checked by a healthcare professional.

Loss of Smell

Loss of smell can also be an early indicator of Parkinson's disease, specifically the inability to identify strong odors like coffee or bananas. While there could be other reasons for the loss of smell, it's essential to consider this possibility if you experience this issue alongside other symptoms. 

Trouble Sleeping

Trouble sleeping can be an indicator of a lot of potential problems, including a risk of developing Parkinson's disease. If you notice any early symptoms of sleep disturbances, consult your doctor for more information about potential causes. 

Speech Changes

Subtle changes in speech, such as speaking with a softer or lower voice, may also signify the onset of Parkinson's disease. Speaking quickly, slurring words, or hesitating before starting a conversation are other speech-related symptoms that should not be ignored. Additionally, the reduced facial expression, commonly called a "masked face," is another subtle sign that may indicate the presence of Parkinson's disease.

Changes in Movement and Standing

Dizziness or fainting upon standing up, as well as stooping or hunching over, are other early signs to watch for. It's important to remember that early detection and diagnosis can significantly influence the management and progression of Parkinson's disease, so do not hesitate to consult a healthcare professional if you notice any of these warning signs.

Resources for Seniors with Parkinson's and Their Caregivers

Thankfully, there are numerous resources available for individuals affected by Parkinson's disease. National hotlines and support centers, such as the National Parkinson Foundation Helpline, American Parkinson Disease Association, Parkinson's Foundation, and the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, can provide valuable information and assistance.

Get Help for Seniors with Parkinson's

We at Senior Helpers Riverside are here to help individuals in Riverside, Hemet, Moreno Valley, and San Jacinto by providing compassionate care that can make a world of difference. We offer in-home care options, assist with mobility, and help seniors with Parkinson's live in their homes longer. Reach out to us today and let us support you in navigating life with Parkinson's disease.