There’s a growing threat amongst seniors wanting to live an independent lifestyle: and it’s commonly known as Parkinson’s Disease. One study1 indicates 930,000 Americans suffer this debilitating disease currently and that number will raise to an estimated 1.2 million by 2030.
What Is Parkinson’s Disease?
According to the Mayo Clinic2, Parkinson’s disease is a progressive nervous system (or neurodegenerative) disease that affects a body’s ability for movement. It leads to a loss of dopamine in the brain. Symptoms typically start gradually, or in stages (for example, a barely noticed hand tremor to something more severe) and will worsen over time. Interestingly, Parkinson’s was named after the English doctor James Parkinson who discovered it in the early 1800’s.
Parkinson’s currently is the 2nd most common neurodegenerative disease in the US (number 1? Alzheimer’s). Some well-known celebrities or famous figures who have been openly revealed their diagnosis of the disease include Michael J. Fox, Ozzy Osbourne, and even the late Muhammad Ali.
What Are Common Symptoms?
Early signs3 include:
- Tremors (slight shaking or tremors on your hand, finger/thumb or chin)
- Troubles with handwriting (ex. letter sizes are smaller and or more crowded together)
- Limited movement (body stiffness)
- Impaired balance
- Signs of facial masking (affecting your feeling/expression)
- Soft speech (sounding hoarse or speaking more softly)
Is There A Cure?
At this time there is not, however there are some prescription medications that can aide or improve certain symptoms. There are other cases where surgery may be an option in an effort to improve symptoms.
What can you do if you have PD?
It’s important to be aware and keep an eye on symptoms. Visit your doctor and let them know how you are feeling or what recent symptoms have been getting worse. They may refer you to a neurologist or suggest therapies from a physical/speech therapist. You may need support from family or at home nursing options as you adjust with day to day life with Parkinson’s Disease.