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Understanding Parkinson's

African senior man kissing senior woman on the cheek.

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder that affects the central nervous system. It causes the death of dopamine-producing cells within the brain which will ultimately inhibit proper control over every-day movements from eating and writing to walking and talking. There are approximately one million Americans diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and those with it are primarily over the age of 60. However, it can occur in individuals under the age of 60. Although it is yet incurable, there are many foundations and organizations that dedicate their time to research and how to better understand this life altering disease. Within this article, we will share what to look for as symptoms and helpful tips on how to manage them.

The symptoms of Parkinson's disease can vary widely from person to person, but some of the most common symptoms include:

  1. Tremors: One of the most well-known and detectable symptoms of Parkinson's disease is tremors, or shaking. Tremors typically begin slowly in one hand or arm and can eventually spread to the other side of the body or become seemingly more visibly prominent. This could affect the ability to do simple tasks like eating and writing.

  2. Bradykinesia: This symptom causes the slowness of movement and speed which can affect activities such as talking and walking. The first manifestation of this symptom is commonly motor slowness.

  3. Rigidity: This symptom causes overall muscle stiffness which makes movement more painful and difficult to accomplish.

  4. Postural instability: Due to many underlying factors of Parkinson's disease, people may have difficulty maintaining their balance which can lead to more falls.

  5. Changes in speech: Soft or slurred voice, monotone speech, or hesitation before speaking are all examples of how Parkinson's disease can cause changes in speech ability.

  6. Loss of smell: Some people with Parkinson's disease may experience a loss of sense of smell.

  7. Sleep disturbances: Another symptom of the disease can be sleep disturbances, such as difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or restless leg syndrome.

  8. Depression and anxiety: Another symptom can be an onset of depression and anxiety, which can worsen as the disease progresses. It could be caused by your loved one becoming too overwhelmed with the disease and how to manage it.

  9. Cognitive changes: Parkinson's disease can cause unwanted cognitive changes, such as difficulty with memory, attention, and executive function.

Although there is currently no cure for Parkinson’s disease at this time, there are lifestyle changes you can incorporate into your daily routine that can help you manage your symptoms, such as medications and physical therapy. There are medications available on the market that can help increase levels of dopamine in the brain and help improve motor function. Additionally, receiving physical therapy can be helpful in improving mobility and reducing stiffness in the body. Plus, eating a healthy and balanced diet and getting regular exercise can help maintain strength and flexibility, while helping to reduce stress and manage the effects of anxiety and depression.

If a loved one has been recently diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, it is important to educate yourself on the disease to show support and understand how to help your loved one manage it. There are many helpful support groups that can help you or your loved one feel not alone in this diagnosis. Parkinson’s Foundation is just one of many organizations that are passionate about creating a better life for those diagnosed with this tough disease. They offer support groups, exercise and wellness programs, volunteer opportunities and much more. No matter how overwhelming this may be, know that you are not alone in this!


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