Do you see signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s in your senior loved one? Parkinson’s disease is a chronic, progressive (symptoms may get worse as time goes by) disorder in which dopamine levels in your brain decline over time. Dopamine is the messenger in your brain partly responsible for controlling movement and coordination in your body. It is used to send messages to your muscles to make them move correctly. In Parkinson’s disease, the nerve cells that produce dopamine are damaged and are unable to produce enough dopamine for normal movement.

Approximately 1 million people in the U.S. have Parkinson’s disease. It usually affects people in their 60s, but up to 15 percent of people with Parkinson’s disease may have early onset, meaning they are diagnosed before the age of 40. The cause is still unknown, it is thought to be a combination of environmental and genetic factors that may contribute to the development of the disease.

Signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease:

  • Tremors. Of the hand or limb.
  • Slowed Movement. Such as shorter steps when walking or difficulty getting out of a chair.
  • Rigid Muscles. Stiff muscles that may limit range of motion.
  • Posture may become stooped or balance may be impaired.
  • Loss of automatic movements. Decreased ability to perform unconscious movements such as blinking or smiling.
  • Speech changes. Speech may become soft or slurred.

Treatment for Parkinson’s disease

Medications can greatly reduce these symptoms of Parkinson’s. They may increase or substitute for dopamine in turn helping to send messages to the muscles. Also, aerobic exercise and/or physical therapy that focuses on balance and stretching is important. A speech-language pathologist may help improve speech problems.

If your senior loved one has Parkinson’s disease and is experiencing any new symptoms and you need assistance or questions answered, please contact our office. Assisted Living Services’ caregivers are trained in providing care for Parkinson’s patients.