Caring For Your Health With Parkinsons Disease
In addition to caring for your Parkinsons health, it is also important to care for your overall health. This means visiting your primary care physician periodically for preventive care like the annual flu shot and cancer screeningsfor example, a mammogram for breast cancer screening and a colonoscopy for colon cancer screening.
A primary care physician can also evaluate for risk factors related to heart attacks and strokes, and provide counseling on exercise, smoking, alcohol use, depression, or other mental health concerns. Regular visits to your primary care physician or neurologist will also allow them to catch bacterial infections like urinary tract infections before they get serious.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Parkinsons Disease
Symptoms of Parkinsons disease and the rate of decline vary widely from person to person. The most common symptoms include:
Other symptoms include:
- Speech/vocal changes: Speech may be quick, become slurred or be soft in tone. You may hesitate before speaking. The pitch of your voice may become unchanged .
- Handwriting changes: You handwriting may become smaller and more difficult to read.
- Depression and anxiety.
- Sleeping disturbances including disrupted sleep, acting out your dreams, and restless leg syndrome.
- Pain, lack of interest , fatigue, change in weight, vision changes.
- Low blood pressure.
What Causes Parkinsons Disease
Parkinsons disease occurs when nerve cells in an area of the brain called the substantia nigra become impaired or die. These cells normally produce dopamine, a chemical that helps the cells of the brain communicate . When these nerve cells become impaired or die, they produce less dopamine. Dopamine is especially important for the operation of another area of the brain called the basal ganglia. This area of the brain is responsible for organizing the brains commands for body movement. The loss of dopamine causes the movement symptoms seen in people with Parkinsons disease.
People with Parkinsons disease also lose another neurotransmitter called norepinephrine. This chemical is needed for proper functioning of the sympathetic nervous system. This system controls some of the bodys autonomic functions such as digestion, heart rate, blood pressure and breathing. Loss of norepinephrine causes some of the non-movement-related symptoms of Parkinsons disease.
Scientists arent sure what causes the neurons that produce these neurotransmitter chemicals to die.
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Support For People With Parkinsons Disease
Early access to a multidisciplinary support team is important. These teams may include doctors, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, dietitians, social workers and specialist nurses. Members of the team assess the person with Parkinsons disease and identify potential difficulties and possible solutions.There are a limited number of multidisciplinary teams in Victoria that specialise in Parkinsons disease management. But generalist teams are becoming more aware of how to help people with Parkinsons disease.
Hospice Eligibility For Parkinsons Disease
Due to the progressive nature of Parkinsons disease, it can be challenging for families to know when their loved one is eligible for the support of hospice care. If a loved one has been diagnosed with six months or less to live or if they have experienced a decline in their ability to move, speak, or participate in the activities of daily living without caregiver assistance, it is time to speak with a hospice professional about next steps.
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Myth : Deep Brain Stimulation Is Experimental Therapy
Fact: Deep brain stimulation, or DBS, is a procedure in which doctors place electrodes in the brain at the point when medications are less effective in masking motor symptoms, such as tremor, stiffness and slowness of movement.
While it may sound frightening and futuristic, its been around and successfully used for decades. DBS works very similarly to a pacemaker, except the wire is in the brain, not in the heart. Its been a standard procedure for the past two decades.
What Are The Symptoms Of End
Stage four for Parkinsons disease is often called advanced Parkinsons disease because people in this stage experience severe and incapacitating symptoms. This is when medication doesnt help as much and serious disabilities set in.
Theres an increased severity in:
- How you speak a softer voice that trails off.
- Falling and trouble with balance and coordination.
- Freezing a sudden, but temporary inability to move, when you start to walk or change direction.
- Moving without assistance or a wheelchair.
- Other symptoms such as constipation, depression, loss of smell, low blood pressure when going to stand up, pain, and sleep issues.
Many times someone with advanced PD cant live on their own and needs help with daily tasks.
Stage five is the final stage of Parkinsons, and assistance will be needed in all areas of daily life as motor skills are seriously impaired. You may:
- Experience stiffness in your legs. It may make it impossible to walk or stand without help.
- Need a wheelchair at all times or are bedridden.
- Need round-the-clock nursing care for all activities.
- Experience hallucinations and delusions.
As Parkinsons disease progresses into these advanced stages, its symptoms can often become increasingly difficult to manage. Whether you or your loved one with end-stage Parkinsons lives at home, in an assisted living facility or a nursing home, hospice services can optimize your quality of life and that of your family members as well.
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When To Seek Hospice Care
When you or your loved one have a life expectancy of six months or less, you become eligible for hospice care a type of comfort care provided at the end of life for someone living with end-stage Parkinsons disease. Hospice provides extra support so your loved one can live as comfortably as possible.
If you have experienced a significant decline in your ability to move, speak, or participate in activities of daily living without caregiver assistance, its time to speak with a hospice professional.
Some of the things that determine whether your loved one with end-stage Parkinsons is eligible for hospice include: difficulty breathing, bed bound, unintelligible speech, inability to eat or drink sufficiently, and/or complications including pneumonia or sepsis.
If you live in South Jersey, our nurse care coordinator can answer your questions and decide if your loved one is ready for hospice care. Call us 24/7 at 229-8183.
What Other Things Help
There are various ways to help a person with PDD. Speech therapy may help improve communication between people with PDD and others. Physical therapy may help strengthen and stretch stiff muscles and help to prevent falls.
Research has shown that physical exercise helps to enhance brain health and improves mood and general fitness. A balanced diet, enough sleep and limited alcohol intake are other important ways to promote good brain health. Other illnesses that affect the brain, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, should also be treated if present.
Symptoms Of Parkinsons Disease
The type, number, severity and progression of Parkinsons disease symptoms vary greatly. Every person is affected differently they may not get every symptom.
Some of the more common symptoms are:
- resting tremor
- blood pressure fluctuation
People living with Parkinsons for some time may experience hallucinations , paranoia and delusions . These symptoms are able to be treated so have a talk with your doctor.
The Reality Of Managing Symptoms
Dr. Benjamin Walter, of the Center for Neuro-Restoration at Cleveland Clinic, said that the average person isnt accustomed to the strict regimen of multiple medications a day thats part of everyday life for people with Parkinsons.
Most people feel burdened just taking an antibiotic, which can be difficult to remember. Now, imagine someone who has Parkinsons the minimal dosing is usually three times a day, Walter said.
He explained that the need to frequently take medication is because it usually only lasts in a persons bloodstream for 90 minutes.
Once the medication gets into the brain, its converted to dopamine and stored in dopamine neurons, which recycles and reuses that medication over and over until it is depleted. Now, its not uncommon to have patients on meds four or five times a day, he said.
Walter stressed that when discussing Parkinsons and off periods, no two people are the same.
Parkinsons is a highly variable disease. Some people will experience different motor symptoms and tremors than others.
For example, some people freeze when they walk, while others dont.
He said the off periods can be terrifying for many people and also cause a different symptom anxiety.
Walter said that its important for those taking care of a person with Parkinsons to understand how dangerous off periods can be.
He stressed the importance of making sure patients get their medications on schedule so that everything is kept in working order.
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What Makes Pd Hard To Predict
Parkinsonâs comes with two main buckets of possible symptoms. One affects your ability to move and leads to motor issues like tremors and rigid muscles. The other bucket has non-motor symptoms, like pain, loss of smell, and dementia.
You may not get all the symptoms. And you canât predict how bad theyâll be, or how fast theyâll get worse. One person may have slight tremors but severe dementia. Another might have major tremors but no issues with thinking or memory. And someone else may have severe symptoms all around.
On top of that, the drugs that treat Parkinsonâs work better for some people than others. All that adds up to a disease thatâs very hard to predict.
Give Yourself Time To Adjust
Over time, youll likely become an expert in Parkinsons disease but right now, youre a newbie. Give yourself time for the diagnosis and all it might mean to sink in. Then, get educated: Ask your doctor for information you can take home and read, find other people with Parkinsons in your community or online to talk to, and browse sites like the National Parkinson Foundation and the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinsons Research.
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How Is Parkinsons Disease Diagnosed
Diagnosing Parkinsons disease is sometimes difficult, since early symptoms can mimic other disorders and there are no specific blood or other laboratory tests to diagnose the disease. Imaging tests, such as CT or MRI scans, may be used to rule out other disorders that cause similar symptoms.
To diagnose Parkinsons disease, you will be asked about your medical history and family history of neurologic disorders as well as your current symptoms, medications and possible exposure to toxins. Your doctor will look for signs of tremor and muscle rigidity, watch you walk, check your posture and coordination and look for slowness of movement.
If you think you may have Parkinsons disease, you should probably see a neurologist, preferably a movement disorders-trained neurologist. The treatment decisions made early in the illness can affect the long-term success of the treatment.
How Is Age Related To Pdd
Both PD and PDD are more common with increasing age. Most people with PD start having movement symptoms between ages 50 and 85, although some people have shown signs earlier. Up to 80% of people with PD eventually develop dementia. The average time from onset of movement problems to the development of dementia is about 10 years.
What Time Of Day Are Parkinsons Symptoms Worse
Morning akinesia is the most common, and often, the first motor complication of PD. It is noticed at awakening after a nightlong treatment-free period, reflecting the dopaminergic nocturnal decline with insufficient nighttime storage or refreshing of the dopaminergic system during nighttime and sleep.
Average Life Expectancy Following A Diagnosis
Many seniors dont realize Parkinsons isnt fatal on its own. Its the complications of this disease that are fatal, which is one of the reasons its so important to manage the symptoms. While every case is slightly different, one recent study in the journal Neurology revealed that many seniors with Parkinsons can live for multiple decades after being diagnosed with this disease. The average life span for someone with Parkinsons is nearly identical to the average life expectancy of the general population. That being said, seniors must follow a comprehensive treatment plan if they want to enjoy a long and fulfilling life.
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Living With Parkinson Disease
These measures can help you live well with Parkinson disease:
- An exercise routine can help keep muscles flexible and mobile. Exercise also releases natural brain chemicals that can improve emotional well-being.
- High protein meals can benefit your brain chemistry
- Physical, occupational, and speech therapy can help your ability to care for yourself and communicate with others
- If you or your family has questions about Parkinson disease, want information about treatment, or need to find support, you can contact the American Parkinson Disease Association.
What Are The Surgical Treatments For Parkinsons Disease
Most patients with Parkinsons disease can maintain a good quality of life with medications. However, as the disease worsens, medications may no longer be effective in some patients. In these patients, the effectiveness of medications becomes unpredictable reducing symptoms during on periods and no longer controlling symptoms during off periods, which usually occur when the medication is wearing off and just before the next dose is to be taken. Sometimes these variations can be managed with changes in medications. However, sometimes they cant. Based on the type and severity of your symptoms, the failure of adjustments in your medications, the decline in your quality of life and your overall health, your doctor may discuss some of the available surgical options.
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What Is Parkinson Disease
Parkinson disease is a movement disorder. It can cause the muscles to tighten and become rigid This makes it hard to walk and do other daily activities. People with Parkinsons disease also have tremors and may develop cognitive problems, including memory loss and dementia.
Parkinson disease is most common in people who are older than 50. The average age at which it occurs is 60. But some younger people may also get Parkinson disease. When it affects someone younger than age 50, it’s called early-onset Parkinson disease. You may be more likely to get early-onset Parkinson disease if someone in your family has it. The older you are, the greater your risk of developing Parkinson disease. It’s also much more common in men than in women.
Parkinson disease is a chronic and progressive disease. It doesn’t go away and continues to get worse over time.
Mayo Clinic Q And A: Rate Of Progression Of Parkinsons Disease Hard To Predict
DEAR MAYO CLINIC: My father is 64 and was diagnosed with Parkinsons last year. So far his symptoms are very mild, but Im wondering what the typical progression of the disease is like. I have read that deep brain stimulation is sometimes recommended. When is this type of treatment usually considered? Is it safe?
ANSWER: The symptoms of Parkinsons disease, or PD, tend to begin very gradually and then become progressively more severe. The rate of progression is hard to predict and is different from one person to another. Treatment for PD includes a variety of options, such as exercise, medication and surgery. Deep brain stimulation is one surgical possibility for treating PD, but its usually only considered in advanced cases when other treatments dont effectively control symptoms.
Parkinsons disease is a syndrome which typically has no known cause. The diagnosis is based on symptoms. Neurologists who specialize in movement disorders typically have the most experience with PD diagnosis and treatment. There are many symptoms of parkinsonism. The most common include excessive slowness and lack of movement, as well as shaking or tremor.
As in your fathers situation, symptoms are often mild at the outset. How quickly they get worse varies substantially, perhaps because there may be multiple underlying causes of the disease. In most cases, symptoms change slowly, with substantive progression taking place over the space of many months or years.
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What Lifestyle Changes Can I Make To Ease Parkinsons Symptoms
Exercise: Exercise helps improve muscle strength, balance, coordination, flexibility, and tremor. It is also strongly believed to improve memory, thinking and reduce the risk of falls and decrease anxiety and depression. One study in persons with Parkinsons disease showed that 2.5 hours of exercise per week resulted in improved ability to move and a slower decline in quality of life compared to those who didnt exercise or didnt start until later in the course of their disease. Some exercises to consider include strengthening or resistance training, stretching exercises or aerobics . All types of exercise are helpful.
Eat a healthy, balanced diet: This is not only good for your general health but can ease some of the non-movement related symptoms of Parkinsons, such as constipation. Eating foods high in fiber in particular can relieve constipation. The Mediterranean diet is one example of a healthy diet.
Preventing falls and maintaining balance: Falls are a frequent complication of Parkinson’s. While you can do many things to reduce your risk of falling, the two most important are: 1) to work with your doctor to ensure that your treatments whether medicines or deep brain stimulation are optimal and 2) to consult with a physical therapist who can assess your walking and balance. The physical therapist is the expert when it comes to recommending assistive devices or exercise to improve safety and preventing falls.