Parkinson’s Awareness Week: 5 Early Warning Signs that Can’t be Missed
Today, April 7th, marks the first day of Parkinson’s Awareness Week for this year. One of the most common, yet debilitating diseases we see affect our senior loved ones today, Parkinson’s negatively affects their ability to control their body due to it forcing the brain to stop making the chemical called Dopamine. While the disease usually progresses slowly over time, it is extremely important for it to be caught in the early stages for the best chances of treating it to have as much of a minimal effect it could possibly have.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, meaning that while you can slow down the progress of the disease through treatment, the person will live with it for the rest of their life. Medical and therapeutic treatment can significantly slow down the symptoms and provide your loved one with as much of a comfortable living situation as possible. The good thing is that not all cases are the same; some patients only experience the symptoms over time, while others are affected more severely, eventually being unable to function on their own and becoming permanently disabled.
While seeing these signs doesn’t necessarily mean your loved one has Parkinson’s, it is vital to their health to get them to a doctor to clarify it as soon as possible.
The everyday person shakes every once in a while, especially after exercise, or even just when they’re nervous, but constant shaking can mean something more serious. If you notice that your loved one’s fingers, hands, or head have tremors, they may be developing Parkinson’s. Many times they won’t even realize it is happening, their head can begin to shake while they’re talking and they’ll never know because they’re not controlling it, or they may have a hard time picking things up because their hands and fingers have begun to quiver.
Loss of balance
One of the most obvious signs is a loss of balance. If you notice that your loved one can’t stand up for as long as they used to, or they have trouble getting up from a sitting down position, you should bring them to a doctor immediately. Since Parkinson’s affects the brain’s ability to control the body, a loss of balance is usually something that happens in the early stages before they can’t control their body at all.
Going along with the loss of balance, is the increased muscle stiffness. Parkinson’s can prevent someone from stretching out their limbs as far as they should be able to, they’ll develop aches and pains if they move around too much, and they quickly become stiff after being in one position even if it’s just for a few minutes. This is one symptom that can prevent them from doing the daily activities they need to in order to live. They’ll begin to have a hard time bathing, making themselves food, and going where they need to go.
Changes in handwriting
This may seem like a random symptom but it is one of the most tell-tale signs of Parkinson’s. Many people who are experiencing the symptoms of the disease experience a change in the way they write; the size of their handwriting gets smaller without doing it intentionally and it becomes extremely difficult for them to write even just a few words.
Diminished voluntary movement
Everyday movements that we take for granted are lost in those that have Parkinson’s. Movements such as blinking, swinging your arms when you walk and moving your hands when you talk are all things that we do without realizing it, but with Parkinson’s you can quickly lose your ability to do so. Take your loved one to a doctor if you notice any of these changes.
Unfortunately, there is no way of completely preventing yourself or your loved ones from getting a disease such as Parkinson’s, but being able to notice the earliest signs gives you or them the best chances at slowing down the progression of this aggressive disease. There are ways to help though, including finding the right facilities, and even mobile applications made for helping those affected by Parkinson’s.
Consider joining marathons or walks to help raise awareness for this disease that you may be directly affected by. Every little bit of funding can go a long way for ongoing research that will hopefully find a cure one day.