Parkinson’s disease is one of the most common neurological conditions in the world. In the US alone, it affects more than 500,000 people. This is according to the National Institute of Health, also known as the NIH.
While there are treatment options designed to ease the challenges that come along with Parkinson’s disease, early detection plays a key role. It is also worth noting that learning a thing or two about how the disease comes about is just as critical as learning its early signs.
How It Starts
Parkinson’s disease starts at the brain cells known as neurons. These cells are responsible for controlling movement and they also produce a special substance referred to as dopamine. Parkinson’s disease steps into full swing when neurons die.
By the time the early signs manifest, a patient’s dopamine levels will have significantly decreased. This affects how a patient moves. It also affects other things such as a patient’s memory and in some cases, perception of pain and pleasure.
You can easily spot the early signs of Parkinson’s disease especially if they manifest sporadically. That is why you need to be extremely attentive. You also need to consult with a doctor as soon as you notice any of the following Parkinson’s disease symptoms:
A sudden change in the size of a patient’s handwriting is one of the least known yet one of the most indicative early signs of Parkinson’s disease. It happens because people who suffer from Parkinson’s disease usually have a hard time controlling movement. This makes fine motor skills like writing and drawing difficult.
Your doctor will most likely refer to this change in size of handwriting as micrographia, which is the official medical term for small handwriting. The handwriting may also look cramped with individual letters appearing smaller than normal.
Words may also be spaced closely. Note too that a person suffering from Parkinson’s disease especially in the disease’s earlier stages may begin writing letters in their regular handwriting before gradually switching to small and crumpled writing.
Tremors are by far the most recognizable symptom of Parkinson’s disease. Slight shaking or twitching of the hand, foot or finger is common. It may be hard to notice this symptom in the beginning. With time though, the tremor worsens even when a patient is resting.
There are several conditions that can result in sleep problems. Parkinson’s disease is certainly one of them. With Parkinson’s disease though, sleep problems take a strange turn. It may involve many uncontrollable movements on a regular basis. Flailing arms, thrashing and kicking and falling out of bed are all signs you must be on the lookout for.
Slow Movement and Stiffness
Parkinson’s disease mostly affects adults over the age of 60. At this age, slow movements and stiffness may be common especially in the morning. You must check to see if the stiffness and slow movement do not go away for the rest of the day. Stiffness of limbs and rigidity or slow movement (bradykinesia) are all red flags.
You may also find that jerkier motions and movements in uncoordinated patterns accompany this stiffness. This happens because of impaired neurons responsible for controlling movement. Ultimately, a patient can develop “shuffling gait”.
We can help you to deal with Parkinson’s disease
We have a number of experienced caregivers that know how to deal with seniors that are suffering from Parkinson’s disease. They have been through intense training in this area and are ready to help you.
Dealing with a loved one that has Parkinson’s can be very difficult for you. We are here to help and would be delighted to discuss your situation. Please contact us here so that we can talk about your requirements for in home care.