Warning Signs and Treatment Options for Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson's disease

 

Nearly one million people in the U.S. suffer from Parkinson’s disease, a chronic and progressive movement disorder. Symptoms can vary from person to person. However, in general, people with Parkinson’s disease lose control over their range of motion which gets worse over time. The good news is that Parkinson’s can be managed and many people live with it for decades.

Here’s what you need to know about the condition if you suspect you or a loved one is showing symptoms:

What It Is

Parkinson’s generally affects the brain’s neurons. The neurons malfunction and die, and when they die, the amount of dopamine—a chemical that sends signals to the brain to control movement—decreases. The progressive death of neurons means that less and less dopamine gets sent to the brain, which is why symptoms get progressively worse over time.

Symptoms

Common symptoms include the following:

  • Tremor of hands, legs, arms, jaw, and face
  • Slowness of movement
  • Stiff limbs
  • Imbalance and loss of coordination
  • Speech problems
  • Muscle pain
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Freeze attacks

To be diagnosed, doctors generally look for at least four motor symptoms. Some people experience tremors first, while others notice their imbalance before anything else. If you or someone you know has any of the above symptoms, it might be worth a visit to the doctor for a diagnosis.

Treatment

To date, there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, but there are many medications available to ease some of the symptoms. Some patients have also experienced relief from a surgical option called Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) in which an impulse generator is implanted into the brain.

While the surgery does not do anything to stop the progression of the disease, it can increase the quality of life for some patients. As with any brain surgery, it does come with certain risks, including bleeding and stroke. Be sure to learn all about the procedure and speak to a doctor and surgeon to see if this is the right treatment plan for you or your loved one.

Reach Out

A diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease can be scary, but knowing what to expect can ease some of the anxiety associated with it. At David York Agency, we know understand the unique challenges of Parkinson’s disease, and we’re here to help you and your loved one as you navigate them.

For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free consultation can help you decide what services might be best to provide you and your loved one with the assistance they need.

If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.”

4 Ways to Adapt Your Home for a Loved One Who has Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a chronic condition, and to date, there is no cure. But, that doesn’t mean that your loved one can’t still live a full life. Adapting your home to make it easier for your loved one to move around and perform daily activities will go a long way towards improving their quality of life and reducing the risk of accidents along the way.

Since Parkinson’s disease affects a person’s motor skills, making it difficult to get around or even perform leisure activities, if you are living with someone who has Parkinson’s disease, it’s important to adapt your home to make it safe and friendly for your loved one for daily living.

Treatment options for Parkinson's Disease

Here are a few things you can do:

  1. Buy a Cordless Phone

Having a phone convenient at all times is so important for Parkinson’s patients, who have good and bad days and may not be able to get up to answer the phone or who may need to use the phone to get help. Invest in a cordless phone with large buttons, and make sure it is with your loved one at all times. Put frequently used numbers on speed dial to make it even easier for them to make phone calls. Keeping important things within reach is a good idea in general for the Parkinson’s patient.

  1. Clear Walkways

Space furniture so that there are wide, clear walkways that your loved one can walk through without worrying about tripping over something. Take away small area rugs and make sure there is no clutter. Eliminate or minimize the use of extension cords, which pose an added risk for trips and falls.

  1. Buy Straight-Backed Furniture

You may need to invest in new furniture, particularly if your current furniture has lots of cushions. Straight-backed chairs are much easier to get out of than chairs with lots of cushion. So, at the very least, invest in a special chair for your loved one that he or she can get in and out of with minimal effort. A lift chair may be a good option, depending on your loved one’s mobility.

  1. Install Handrails

Installing handrails along walls, next to your bed, along stairwells, and in your bathrooms will make it easier and safer for your loved one to move around and will reduce the risk of accidents and falls.

At the David York Agency, we understand the numerous daily challenges that those living with Parkinson’s disease face. That’s why our experienced healthcare professionals are highly trained and capable of giving your loved one the specialized care and attention they need. For a fuller list of elder proofing suggestions, please visit our website for a handy, printable checklist.

For more information on David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free phone consultation can help you decide what services might be best to provide your loved one with the assistance they need. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn. For more information on how to make life better for your loved one who has Parkinson’s disease, or to find out how a home health aide can help, contact us today.

Detecting Parkinson’s Disease Earlier

Long before the classic symptoms of tremors and gait instability appear, Parkinson’s disease, which affects 1.5 million Americans, might be diagnosable allowing for the possibility for earlier intervention and amelioration of the disease.

Tablet with the diagnosis parkinson's disease on the display

The Lancet published a study in January 2015 that found that many of those diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease had experienced the following symptoms five years earlier:

  • Tremors
  • Balance problems
  • Constipation,
  • Low blood pressure,
  • Dizziness
  • Erectile and urinary dysfunction,
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

Additionally, the Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Institute at the Weill Cornell Medical Center found that REM sleep behavior disorder is one of the strongest indicators for the disease. This is when someone acts out their dreams while still asleep. A Parkinson’s pre-diagnostic symptom can also be the loss of the sense of smell and minor changes in cognitive ability.

Having a combination of these risk factors may prompt someone to see a neurologist specially trained in movement disorders. An early diagnosis may qualify someone for participation in clinical trials for new treatments. This could be critical since by the time the typical symptoms appear, the brain could have lost more than half of its dopamine producing cells.

The National Parkinson Foundation reported that neurologists are working on bio-markers in the blood, saliva, and spinal fluid as a way to identify those at risk for developing the disease. The Michael J. Fox Foundation is also actively involved in clinical trials for vaccines and drugs to combat this debilitating disease.

David York Agency (DYA) is skilled at recognizing the symptoms of various diseases endemic to the elderly and makes every effort to send caring and compassionate home health aides into the client’s home. DYA provides certified home health aide services for the elderly in their home and is abreast of all the latest guidelines and trends for seniors.  We would be happy to discuss your case with you.  Please call for a free consultation today at (718) 376-7755 or visit our website.  You can also follow us on FacebookTwitter, google+ and LinkedIn.

 

Can Change in Gait Indicate Bigger Problems?

The shuffle. It’s something we’ve come to accept as a normal part of aging, or as a result of certain medical conditions—following a stroke or coinciding with the onset of Parkinson’s disease. But what if there was more to this sometimes-gradual change in a person’s gait? What if it indicated a shift in cognitive function? Research is beginning to investigate possible connections between the way people walk and their ability to think as well as the possibility that changes in gait may be an early indicator of cognitive impairment stemming from conditions such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

AlzheimersRecent studies suggest that thinking skills—memory, planning activities or processing information—decline at nearly the same rate as the ability to walk steadily and information increasingly points to a correlation between trouble walking and difficulty thinking.

A number of studies utilize a dual-tasking testing system to help uncover problems, asking subjects to simultaneously perform thinking and movement tasks such as walking while counting to 50. While still inconclusive, the results of these tests —which revealed that subjects who walked more slowly or inconsistently did worse on cognitive tests, with the worst of these suffering the most severe Alzheimer’s—may indicate that the brain is sufficiently compromised as to be unable to coordinate and efficiently manage more than one task.

This seeming correlation could be an indicator for earlier diagnosis and treatment for conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Once the studies are conclusive, the hope is to integrate an observation-based screening protocol that can be used during routine examinations by doctors, or physical therapy sessions.

As mobility and accessibility needs change, David York Agency and their team of home heath aide professionals will be there to help you every step of the way. Our client intake coordinator is available to answer your questions about in-home healthcare. When you sign on as a client, a free nursing assessment helps tailor a specific care plan performed by a caring home health aide.

For more information about our services, please visit www.davidyorkagency.com or follow us on our Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter pages. You can also call us at 718.376.7755 and we will be happy to talk over your specific home healthcare needs.