Parkinson's Disease: Everything You Need to Know
Parkinson's Disease is a progressive neurological disorder that affects movement, muscle control, and balance. As the disease progresses, it can become difficult to perform everyday activities such as walking, talking, and swallowing. Fortunately, several care options can help seniors with Parkinson's live comfortably at home.
Symptoms of Parkinson's Disease
The early symptoms of Parkinson's disease are often mild and may go unnoticed. However, as the disease progresses, symptoms will become more pronounced and may include the following:
Bradykinesia, or slowness of movement: This may be the first symptom you notice. Simple tasks such as getting out of a chair or reaching for a cup of coffee may take longer than usual. It mostly affects the arms and legs.
Tremor: You may notice a tremor, or shaking, in your hands, arms, legs, jaw, or face. The tremor is usually worse when you're at rest and often improves when you move around or do something with your hands.
Rigidity: Muscles all over your body may feel stiff or tight.
Impaired balance and coordination: As the disease progresses, you may have trouble walking, keeping your balance, or standing up from a chair. You also may develop a stooped posture.
Changes in speech: You may speak more softly than usual, or your voice may become softer or throatier. You also may slur your words or have difficulty saying what you want to say (aphasia).
Writing changes: Parkinson's disease may cause a gradual change in handwriting. The letters may appear smaller than normal and crowded together.
If you or a loved one are experiencing any of these symptoms, it's important to see a doctor for an accurate diagnosis. Early diagnosis and treatment can help improve quality of life.
What Causes Parkinson's Disease?
The cause of Parkinson's disease is unknown. However, researchers have identified several factors that may play a role in its development, including:
Age: Parkinson's disease is most common in people over the age of 60.
Heredity: You're more likely to develop Parkinson's disease if you have a close relative with the condition.
Exposure to toxins: People exposed to certain toxins, such as pesticides, are at increased risk for Parkinson's disease.
Brain injuries: Traumatic brain injuries have been linked to an increased risk of Parkinson's disease.
There is no cure for Parkinson's, but treatments can help relieve symptoms and improve quality of life. In some cases, symptoms may even disappear completely for a period of time. As the disease progresses, however, symptoms will become more pronounced and may eventually interfere with daily activities.
Different Care Options for Parkinson's Patients
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, several care options are available. The care you receive will depend on the severity of your symptoms and overall health.
Medication: Several different types of medications are available to treat Parkinson's disease. These can help relieve symptoms and improve quality of life.
Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be an option. This is usually only recommended if medication isn't effective in managing symptoms.
Therapy: Physical, occupational, and speech therapy can help seniors with Parkinson's improve their quality of life. Therapy can help with balance, coordination, and mobility.
Caregiving: Seniors with Parkinson's disease may need the assistance of a family member or caregiver to help with daily living activities, such as bathing, dressing, and eating. Caregivers play a crucial role in helping seniors stay safe and independent in their own homes.
Elite Choice and CDPAP Program
CDPAP is a New York State Medicaid Program that will compensate the caregiver, the consumer chooses to help with daily living activities. In order to qualify for CDPAP, a person must be eligible for Medicaid, be able to direct their own care,choose their caregiver and need help with their activities of daily living.
Elite Choice, is a fiscal intermediary for CDPAP, supporting at-home caregivers and their loved ones so that being cared for in your own home is a blessing for everyone. Contact us to learn more.
Written by: Leah Ganz
Leah Ganz, RN, BSN is the Director of Patient Services at Elite Home Health Care. She has an extensive background in homecare and previously worked in various specialties including pediatrics, pain management and internal medicine. She oversees all patient services across Elite's departments.