is a degenerative brain condition that often occurs with age.
Understanding how to manage Parkinson’s is essential, especially if you are caring for a loved one suffering from the disease. Learning more about Parkinson’s will enable you to provide better care for the individual as they cope with the symptoms of this misunderstood condition.
This article will examine the , how to recognize the signs, and the available to your loved one.
is a progressive disorder most often associated with tremors, , and walking problems.
occurs when in a particular , the , die. These -producing are responsible for movement, and when they are damaged or die, the that is develops. The include , tremors, stiffness, and slowed movements.
In some cases, it may be genetic, but not all. Symptoms start gradually and increase as the over time.
There is currently no known cure for . There are, however, many to help your loved one manage their condition and improve their .
In some cases, your loved one’s provider may suggest surgery to regulate an to improve their symptoms.
and similar conditions may be grouped under the umbrella term Parkinsonism. In this category, other conditions with similar are multiple or corticobasal .
is far more prevalent among white men over 50. Research is looking into why this more men than women.
Genetic: There are genetic associated with a higher risk of . In most cases, though, no apparent single genetic is found. Further research around the genetics of will, in time, help researchers discover its causes, which will help them understand how to prevent, cure, or treat Parkinson's.
In young people diagnosed with Parkinson's, there is more likely a genetic
as the cause and often a family history of the disease.
Non-Genetic: Research indicates that idiopathic (non-genetic) develops due to problems related to how the patient's body processes , a protein. With , these proteins are misshapen, known as protein misfolding, and cannot be used appropriately by the body, and this causes protein build-up.
These tangled protein bundles are called
. It's the that cause brain damage and cell death. Protein misfolding is also related to other disorders, including .
Other Causes: Exposure to or experiencing a head injury has been shown to increase the risk of .
Because the 's remains unknown, there remains no clear way to prevent .
Some research shows a correlation between performing regular aerobic exercise and reducing the risk, as well as consuming caffeine. However, not enough is yet known to suggest physical activity or caffeine consumption as ways to prevent .
The is the world’s largest non-profit fundraiser for Parkinson’s pharmaceutical treatments. The Foundation also funds research to find a cure for Foundation for .
Being a white man over 50 is the single greatest for . It is most often diagnosed around the age of 60, though there are rare cases of a young person under 40 years of age experiencing early onset.
In addition to age, other for include:
No one sign of is definitive for diagnosis, as these symptoms may have other causes, such as . The severity of these symptoms is highly individual. progress and worsen over time.
If you notice two or more of the following signs, it may be a good time to talk with your loved one’s provider.
Look for these common signs of
in your loved one:
Tremor (usually noticeable in the hands or fingers at first)
Rigidity (stiff muscles)
Problems with walking or balance
Facial masking (lack of )
Micrographia (handwriting has become much smaller)
Slowed or Softer Speech
Dizziness due to changes
, may occur in your loved one even before movement symptoms and may affect and . Some non-motor include:
Memory loss or dementia
Keep in mind that many of the
can indicate an entirely different diagnosis. Speak with your loved one’s provider to discuss your concerns if you suspect .
No blood tests, lab tests, or scans are used to diagnose . Instead, your loved one's physicians will diagnose the disease based on their family history, medical history, and physical examination.
Tests may be prescribed, however, to rule out other conditions with shared symptoms.
As a , your role in noticing and reporting symptoms to your loved one’s provider will help them make a definitive diagnosis.
For a second opinion, consult with a specialist about a 's. A specialist is a neurologist specializing in and other .
In some cases, if your loved one's provider is unsure whether a Parkinson's tremor is an (another ), a brain imaging test called a DaT scan is used to capture images of the system in the brain.
The Foundation has sponsored a study to gather and compile data to find a biomarker. is working to find a biomarker that will allow researchers to create a test that indicates a patient's or .
While there remains no cure for , there are medications and therapies designed to improve and reduce symptoms.
As the , it will be important for your loved one to be under treatment by a specialist or a neurologist with specialized training.
is highly individualized, as not all people will develop the same symptoms on the same timeline. Often, treatment begins with drug therapy to reduce symptoms.
may be prescribed to help manage the , especially in cases where symptoms interfere with work or social situations.
Unfortunately, Younger patients may consider beginning drug therapy with an MAO-B , a , or an anticholinergic drug. can cause , which refers to involuntary fidgeting, head bobbing, or swaying.
In cases where pharmaceuticals are ineffective or cause intolerable , may be considered a .
Some research suggests that exercise can help. Talk with your loved one’s team to determine a safe regimen for physical activity.
As a , it is recommended that you attend doctor's appointments with your loved one to get your questions answered, take down notes, and report any changes to symptoms you have observed.
A Nurse Director at a large medical center in Boston, MA, who holds a Master’s in Nursing Leadership and Administration and an MBA in Healthcare Management.
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