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5 Important Signs That May Indicate Parkinson’s Disease

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Statistics indicate that more than 100,000 adults in Canada live with Parkinson’s disease. Approximately 90 percent of these individuals are diagnosed after the age of 60. The remaining 10 percent develop symptoms before turning 50. Parkinson’s causes various warning signs early in its development that seniors and family members need to know.

1. Handwriting Changes

A lack of dopamine causes a subsequent loss of fine and gross motor skills. As a result, seniors with Parkinson’s often exhibit changes in their handwriting ability. The writing appears smaller, and the words and letters are more closely grouped together. Though the writing of an older adult in the early stages of Parkinson’s may initially appear normal, as the text becomes longer, the font becomes smaller and more cramped in appearance. The medical term for this characteristic is known as micrographia.

2. Uncontrolled Muscle Movement

When neurological damage progresses to the point of causing physical symptoms, seniors with Parkinson’s often experience twitching in a finger, hand, or foot. This symptom is generally not noticeable to other people, and the senior might not initially be aware of the slight change. However, the uncontrollable spastic movement eventually progresses to an entire hand or foot as well as the tongue, lips, and facial muscles. The shaking and tremors occur when resting or when using the afflicted body part. 

If your loved one has tremors severe enough to cause difficulty with the routine activities of daily life, he or she may get a great deal of benefit from having a professional caregiver help with everyday tasks. Families looking for top-rated Oakville elderly home care providers can reach out to Home Care Assistance. From respite care to specialized Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care, there are many ways we can make life easier for seniors and their loved ones.

3. Muscle Rigidity and Stiffness

Upon awakening in the morning, seniors with Parkinson’s may start feeling stiffness in one or more joints. While many older adults living with arthritis experience stiffness first thing in the morning, this symptom typically resolves itself as the morning progresses and joint and muscle movements increase. However, the symptom doesn’t subside in someone with Parkinson’s. The joint and muscle stiffness or tension continues throughout the day. As the disorder progresses, the symptom advances through the body. Eventually, the rigidity causes afflicted adults to move more slowly than normal, which is referred to as bradykinesia. 

Seniors in the later stages of Parkinson’s can live at home, but they will need assistance from a family member or other caregiver to do so safely. For many seniors in Oakville, live-in care is an essential component of aging in place safely and comfortably. However, it’s important for them to have caregivers they can trust and rely on. At Home Care Assistance, we extensively screen all of our live-in and 24-hour caregivers and only hire those who have experience in the senior home care industry. Our strict requirements ensure seniors can remain in the comfort of home with a reduced risk of injury or serious illness.

4. Gait Changes

When stiffness affects the legs from the hips downward, seniors with Parkinson’s may experience difficulty changing positions, standing, and walking. They may appear to shuffle their feet secondary to losing the ability to pick up their feet and step normally. Seniors might also have difficulty when taking the first step, or they may have a loss of coordination when attempting to turn and walk. When walking, the arms normally swing back and forth in rhythm with a person’s steps. However, these arm movements don’t occur in a person with Parkinson’s.

5. Vocal Changes

As Parkinson’s progresses, the mouth, throat, and facial muscles become affected. The lack of muscle control in these regions makes speaking more difficult. In the early phase of the disease, speech may sound slurred. Seniors might speak more quietly than normal, as if whispering, or they may sound hoarse or speak in a monotone.

Early diagnosis is critical because Parkinson’s disease can be particularly challenging in its final stages, and family caregivers can easily get overwhelmed. If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of home care Oakville, ON, families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. Reach out to us at Home Care Assistance if you need compassionate, professional care for your loved one. Call one of our dedicated Care Managers today at (519) 590-2792 to learn about the high quality of our in-home care services.