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Caring for Someone with Parkinson's

April is Parkinson’s disease awareness month. Homewatch CareGivers can help care for individuals challenged with a variety of chronic health conditions; Parkinson’s being one of them. According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, one million Americans are currently living with Parkinson’s disease. Men are at a slightly higher risk than women, and, individuals with a relative living with the disease are at double the risk. The average age at onset of any symptoms is 61, however, 10% of patients are diagnosed before age 40.

Parkinson Awareness month flower

What is Parkinson’s? Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative brain disorder that robs individuals of control over their movements. Currently, there is no cure, but many treatment options are available to manage symptoms. There is a good chance you know someone affected by Parkinson’s. Two well-known celebrities diagnosed with Parkinson’s are singer, Ozzie Osburne, and actor, Michael J. Fox.

Below are 10 signs that may indicate you have the disease. If you have more than one sign, you should consider making an appointment with a doctor.

  1. Tremors on your fingers, hands or chin. As a result, tremors can make it difficult for a person to feed themselves; a trained caregiver can help.
  2. Small handwriting. If your handwriting has gotten much smaller or words are crowded together.
  3. Loss of smell. Losing the sense of smell in foods like bananas or dill pickles.
  4. Trouble sleeping. Thrashing around in bed or sudden movements during sleep.
  5. Stiffness in body, arms, legs, shoulders or hips. People have reported their feet seem “stuck to the floor.”
  6. Constipation. Straining to move your bowels.
  7. Soft or low voice. Your voice has gone soft or sounds hoarse. You may think others are losing their hearing when, in fact, you are speaking more softly.
  8. Masked Face. Having a serious, depressed or mad look on your face when you are not in a bad mood.
  9. Dizziness or fainting. Feeling dizzy when you stand up from a chair can be a sign of low blood pressure linked to Parkinson’s. A professional caregiving plan can help mitigate falls.
  10. Stooping. Not standing up as straight as you used to, stooping, leaning, or slouching.

For some, the diagnosis of Parkinson’s may come as a relief … an explanation for previously unexplained symptoms. Others may react stunned, struggling to understand what the future may look like.

As you begin to process your wide-range emotions, it is important to know you are not alone. Make an appointment with your doctor and find resources like the Parkinson’s Foundation.

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