An Overview of Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects predominately dopamine-producing (“dopaminergic”) neurons in a specific area of the brain called substantia nigra. Dopamine serves as a neurotransmitter and enables neurons in your brain to communicate and control movement. With Parkinson’s Disease, one type of neuron steadily degenerates and no longer has a signal to send anymore so the body produces less dopamine. The result is a chemical imbalance which causes physical symptoms such as tremors and involuntary bodily movements that are common for folks with Parkinson’s Disease.
According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, more than one million Americans are living with Parkinson’s Disease and there are more than 10 million people living with this disease worldwide. The likelihood of developing Parkinson’s Disease increases with age but an estimated 4% of people living with the disease are diagnosed before turning 50 years old. While there is no cure for Parkinson’s Disease, early detection combined with immediate medical attention can help to delay further symptoms and improve one’s quality of life overall.
The 10 early signs of Parkinson’s Disease are as follows:
- Tremors While at Rest – especially a shaking tremor in one’s finger(s), hands or chin
- Small, Crowded Handwriting
- Loss of Smell
- Trouble Sleeping– especially due to sudden, involuntary body movements
- Trouble Moving or Walking – early signs of this might be stiffness or pain in your shoulder or hips
- A Soft or Low Voice
- Masked Face – typically referring to a serious, depressed or mad look on your face even when not experiencing any of those feelings
- Dizziness or Fainting
- Hunched Posture
If you believe you or your loved one may be displaying any of the above signs, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. Keep in mind that it is common to experience one of the above signs but if you have more than one of the above signs, it really is best to speak to your Primary Care Physician and ask for a referral to a reputable Neurologist.
There are many organizations that exist such as the Parkinson’s Foundation and Michael J. Fox Foundation which can help those diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and their family members better understand the disease, what to expect, how to halt the onset of additional symptoms and highlight other helpful resources that can help in the fight against PD. A common misconception about PD is the belief that those diagnosed with Parkinson’s no longer have a good quality of life. This is a similar belief that most people have about Alzheimer’s Disease/Dementia. The good news is that this belief could not be further from the truth! With the right help and adequate care in place, folks living with neurological conditions like Parkinson’s Disease can absolutely have a good quality of life. ABC Home Healthcare Professionals is proud to offer specialized caregivers with additional training that can be hugely helpful to clients and families alike when it comes time for needing more help in the home to keep someone living safely and independently in the comfort of their own home. To learn more about our specialized caregiving services, click here!