Parkinson’s is a degenerative disease of the nervous system that causes problems with movement. The majority of people who suffer from Parkinson’s are over the age of 50 when symptoms first appear. Because it is a progressive disease, Parkinson’s gets worse over time.
Parkinson’s progresses in five commonly recognized stages, each with its own characteristic symptoms. In the first stage of the disease, symptoms such as tremor (shaking), changes in posture or movement, and altered facial expressions are typical. These early symptoms are usually mild, and may appear on only one side of the body. Although they may be annoying or embarrassing, early Parkinson’s symptoms are usually not disabling.
In the second stage of the disease, symptoms may appear on both sides of the body, and be more serious, causing minor difficulties with everyday activities. Posture may become more stooped and a shuffling gait may develop. Although symptoms at this point often slow someone down, they don’t usually pose an impediment to independent living.
Third-stage Parkinson’s is characterized by greater difficulty walking or standing, as posture and balance are further compromised. Noticeably slow movement (also called bradykinesia) may also develop during this stage of the disease. At this point, everyday tasks become more challenging, and the person may need moderate assistance with activities of daily living such as meal preparation and bathing.
For Parkinson’s sufferers experiencing the fourth stage of the disease, symptoms such as slowness of movement, postural instability, and stiffness of the limbs are severe, although tremor may become slightly less pronounced. Chewing, swallowing, and speaking may be difficult. Walking may still be possible, but may be much more challenging, and require assistance. People in this stage of Parkinson’s can no longer live independently, requiring in-home care or transition to an assisted living facility.
In the fifth and final stage of Parkinson’s, patients are unable to stand or walk, and often display weight loss and deterioration of muscle mass. People in this stage of Parkinson’s require round-the clock-care.
Edison Home Health Care is happy to advise and assist you or any loved one who seek appropriate care for Parkinson problems. Give us a call at 888-311-1142, or fill out a contact form and we will respond shortly.