According to the National Parkinson Foundation, approximately one percent of seniors over the age of 60 have Parkinson’s disease, a neurological disorder that affects mental health and mobility. Parkinson’s is a progressive disease that can have a wide range of symptoms. While these symptoms can vary among people depending on their age and other health conditions, seniors with Parkinson’s typically progress through five defined stages. Knowing these stages along with their associated symptoms can provide seniors and their loved ones with an understanding of what to expect as the disease progresses so they can plan for high-quality care.
In the first stage of Parkinson’s, seniors may experience mild symptoms that interfere only slightly with their day-to-day lives. During stage one of Parkinson’s disease, symptoms typically occur on only one side of the body (unilateral involvement). Symptoms may include slight tremors, clumsiness, postural changes, or rigidity. Often, only close friends and family members detect the changes in their loved ones, and these symptoms may even be misdiagnosed by doctors. Functional impairment is rare in stage one, and your loved one should be able to continue with normal daily activities.
As Parkinson’s disease progresses, shaking and tremors often become bilateral, which means they affect both limbs at the same time. This can contribute to problems with walking and maintaining balance. Seniors who have difficulty completing their daily tasks independently may also experience increased frustration and need assistance at home. Speech difficulties also become apparent at this stage.
For most seniors with Parkinson’s, stage three represents a turning point in the disease when many daily tasks become increasingly challenging. The severity of current symptoms will progress, and a loss of balance and decreased reflexes can increase the chances of a serious fall. At this point, occupational therapy may be added to the care plan, and medications may be adjusted. Hiring professional caregivers may also be considered to ensure the senior’s safety and comfort at home.
At this stage, your loved one may get a great deal of benefit from having a professional caregiver help with everyday tasks. Families looking for top-rated senior 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.
A lack of mobility and decreasing independence mark the transition from stage three to stage four. Seniors in this stage exhibit increased bradykinesia and rigidity. They may require walkers or wheelchairs to remain mobile, and most cannot stand unassisted. Sometimes, tremors and shakiness will regress and no longer be apparent. Sleep disturbances and behavioral changes may also increase at this time.
Seniors in this stage can live at home, but they’ll need the assistance of a family member or professional caregiver. If you’re the primary caregiver for a senior family member and you need respite care, Harrisburg, PA, Home Care Assistance is here to help. Our respite caregivers are trained to assist older adults with a wide variety of everyday tasks, including meal prep, physical activity, and personal hygiene. We also provide 24-hour care and specialized care for seniors with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Parkinson’s.
Once seniors have reached the fifth stage of Parkinson’s disease, they usually require one-on-one care around the clock. They cannot stand without assistance, and delusions may become more common during the day. Medications may no longer work, and the focus of treatment is often on ensuring the comfort of the senior throughout the final stage of the disease.
Parkinson’s disease can be particularly challenging in its final stages, and family caregivers can easily get overwhelmed. Caring for a senior loved one can be challenging for families who don’t have expertise or professional training in home care, but this challenge doesn’t have to be faced alone. Family caregivers can turn to Harrisburg Home Care Assistance for the help they need. We provide high-quality live-in and respite care as well as comprehensive Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care. If your loved one needs professional care, Home Care Assistance is here to help. Call one of our dedicated Care Managers today at (717) 540-4663 to learn about the high quality of our in-home care services.