Friday, July 15, 2016

Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is one not to be taken lightly.  Although it is a progressively debilitating disease that takes time, it proves to be rather life-changing for those involved.  Parkinson’s grossly affects motor function and the time it takes an individual to progress through the stages of Parkinson’s disease varies widely, of course.  There are four distinct and primary symptoms that characterize this disease which include tremor, muscle rigidity, bradykinesia (slow movement), and postural instability.  All the symptoms occur due to changes within the chemistry and functions of the brain.

There are five stages of involvement that are included in this progressive disease, including:

            Stage 1 – Clients will begin to notice shaking and tremor of one limb, generally on one                              side of the body.
            Stage 2 – Limbs on both sides of the client’s body will begin to be involved in the                                    disease, which will cause increase difficulty in walking and maintaining     
            Stage 3 – The physical movements expressed by the client will significantly begin to                                slow down, which will affect walking even more.
            Stage 4 – Tremors the client once experienced may be decreased noticeably in this stage,
                        but further decrease in movement and increased rigidity of muscles make day-to-                           day tasks more difficult.
            Stage 5 – Client will be unable to stand or walk at this point and will be dependent on a
                        caregiver to provide all aspects of care.  Dementia may also be exhibited in this
                        final stage of Parkinson’s disease.

There are no definitive diagnostic tests for Parkinson’s disease.  Your diagnosis is made based on your symptoms, how they progress, and by ruling out other possible diseases.  Treatment of Parkinson’s disease will be unique to each individual since the time it takes to progressively go through each stage varies.  The disease will not be curable; however treatment will be aimed at preventing the condition from worsening.  Generally, medications will be administered that exert their actions on the chemistry and functions of the brain in order to slow down the disease process.  Keep in mind, medications that are used in treatment of this disease may take several weeks before any improvement of symptoms is noticeable. 

As with any other health condition, there are also risk factors for Parkinson’s disease, which include:

ü  Onset of symptoms that occurs between age 40 to 70
ü  Men are more at risk than women
ü  Genetic predisposition (family history)
ü  Excess exposure to toxins in the environment and other chemicals
ü  Chronic use of antipsychotic medication

Individuals diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease may have expressed consecutive reports of feeling tired over time, or they may report a decreased use of their muscles over a period of time.  If you were to observe the physical appearance of an individual with Parkinson’s, or if you have it yourself, you may notice a stooped posture, slow/shuffling gait, slow/monotone speech, tremors, rigid muscles, flushed face, sweating, difficulty chewing or swallowing, drooling, mood swings, dementia, and having an increased difficulty over time at completing tasks that were once simple or second nature.

Throughout your progression of Parkinson’s disease you will have a whole team of health care professionals seeing you through.  Depending on your symptoms you may need referrals and support from speech therapists, nutritionists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, and social service.  Since Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative, neurological disorder, long-term treatment and care must be a part of your plan.  Staying in your home in the environment that is familiar to you, with familiar faces day in and day out, plus having your care brought to you by the professionals at Total Home Health will be a great option for you to think about.

Ensuring your safety, seeing that you are adequately nourished, maintaining your medications and being alert to any changes in your symptoms will be the goals brought to you our compassionate professionals at Total Home Health.  The debilitating progression of Parkinson’s disease may have its own way of making you feel like you have lost control.  Our professional team at Total Home Health will do all that is possible within our practice to see that you may actively participate as long as the progression of your disease allows in order to keep a grip on your sense of control.  Ultimately, we will never lose sight of your comfort and dignity… with Total Home Health you and your loved ones will be like our own throughout the entire journey.

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