Care for Seniors with Parkinson’s
You want the best possible care for your loved one. You want them to enjoy experiences in a welcoming community. But planning for your loved one’s senior years can be challenging when they need support for health concerns.
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder. Depending on the stage, you may want additional services to ensure your loved one feels comfortable and receives appropriate health care. But how can you predict what level of care they’ll need? How fast does Parkinson’s progress?
Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a brain disorder. Yet, it’s often characterized as a movement disorder because of its notable physical symptoms. The disease causes unintended or uncontrollable movements, such as tremors, stiffness, and difficulty with balance or coordination.
The disease typically develops slowly. However, the stages and development of symptoms can depend on the individual, particularly in cases of atypical parkinsonism.
There are 3 distinct movement issues that are telltale symptoms of Parkinson’s disease:
Other symptoms of the disease are either movement or non-movement related.
Movement or motor symptoms typically include:
- Cramping (dystonia)
- Drooling (sialorrhea)
- Festination (short, rapid steps)
- Freezing ( involuntary inability to move)
- Facial Masking (hypomimia)
- Involuntary movement (dyskinesia)
- Micrographia (cramped or small handwriting)
- Shuffling gait or stooped posture.
- Soft speech (hypophonia)
Postural instability and balance problems are additional symptoms of Parkinson’s. Balance, coordination, and mobility issues typically develop in the later stages. However, posture and balance problems can be early indications of atypical parkinsonism (rarer forms of the disease).
Non-motor symptoms of PD can include:
- Early satiety (feeling prematurely full)
- Excessive sweating
- Increase in dandruff (seborrheic dermatitis)
- Hallucinations and delusions
- Lightheadedness when standing (orthostatic hypotension)
- Loss of sense of smell or taste
- Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or Parkinson’s dementia
- Mood disorders
- Sleep disorders
- Urinary problems & incontinence
- Vision problems
- Weight loss
Rate of Progression
Although Parkinson’s disease is not considered a fatal illness, it is a progressive disease. Over time, it can cause health complications, increasing risks that impact an individual’s quality of life and lifespan.
Typically, Parkinson’s symptoms develop around age 60. People with the disease can live between 10–20 years after their diagnosis. However, additional health issues can impact health risks.
Individuals with PD progress through stages, which describe the types and severity of symptoms. How quickly a person moves through the stages, and the symptoms they experience, can help medical professionals predict their progression over time. However, every experience is unique and can be challenging to evaluate.
The 5 Stages & Progression
The Hoehn and Yahr scale (first developed in 1967) described the progression of movement symptoms related to Parkinson’s disease. The 5 stages, according to the scale, are:
Stage 1.0: Mild movement symptoms affecting one side only (unilateral). Many patients have mild symptoms up to one year before their diagnosis.
Stage 1.5: Mild movement symptoms are unilateral and can affect axial involvement (posture & stability involving the ankles, hips, neck, and torso).
Stage 2: Mild symptoms appear on both sides (bilateral involvement). However, symptoms don’t typically impair balance. Individuals with bilateral symptoms experience disease progression more quickly than those with unilateral symptoms.
Stage 2.5: Some additional movement problems, with minimal balance difficulties.
Stage 3: Symptoms range from mild to moderate and can cause balance problems. However, individuals may still be physically independent. People typically experience moderate symptoms between 3–7 years of developing symptoms. Some individuals may also begin experiencing symptoms of mild cognitive impairment (MCI).
Stage 4: Symptoms can cause severe disability, particularly with activities of daily living (ADLs). An individual can typically stand without assistance but requires a mobility aid. Progression to stage 4 is more common after approximately 10 years of experiencing symptoms.
Stage 5: Symptoms are advanced. Individuals need a wheelchair for movement or may be bedridden. Additionally, symptoms of Parkinson’s dementia are most common in stage 5. However, some people with PD never experience the most advanced stage.
Parkinson’s & Dementia
Parkinson’s dementia can develop as early as one year after diagnosis but is more common in the final stage. The cognitive decline caused by dementia can affect the progression of health problems in people with Parkinson’s.
The longer an individual lives with Parkinson’s, the more likely they’ll develop advanced motor symptoms, dementia, and mental health issues. Notably, about 30% of people with Parkinson’s will develop mild cognitive impairment (MCI) 5 years after their diagnosis. After 10 years, 75% of people develop dementia.
Supporting Life with Parkinson’s
How Parkinson’s disease affects your life can be unique and personal. The progression can vary depending on their cognitive abilities, mental state, and additional health problems. So, caring for someone with Parkinson’s means seeing the whole picture.
At Fox Trail Hillsdale, our friendly staff is dedicated to providing personalized care for all your loved one’s needs. Visit us to see how our community can offer seniors a safe, comfortable, and engaging environment to enhance their quality of life.
Contact us today to learn more about our community.