Parkinson’s disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that impacts the body’s mobility. Since symptoms can come on gradually, it can sometimes be challenging to notice the early signs of Parkinson’s. Family members are usually the first to notice something is off and should take symptoms seriously as soon as they arise.
5 Early Signs of Parkinson’s
Since Parkinson’s progresses, early detection is key to getting proper treatment and slowing the progression as much as possible. There are five key signs you should be on the lookout for, but it’s essential to understand that the Parkinson’s journey is different for everyone, and you may or may not see all these signs in your loved one.
Having just one of the early signs of Parkinson’s doesn’t necessarily mean your loved one has the disease. But when you notice multiple symptoms, you should consider making an appointment to talk with a doctor. The five symptoms are:
1. Hand or Facial Tremors
Slight shaking or tremors in the hands, fingers, thumbs or chin can be an early sign of Parkinson’s disease. Since shaking is common with some prescribed medicines, it’s necessary to pay attention to things like changes in handwriting that could indicate it’s not just a side effect from medication but an early warning sign.
2. Loss of Smell
If your loved one starts to lose their sense of smell for things that typically have strong odors, you should talk with a doctor. Since stuffy noses are standard with some illnesses, it’s important to keep an eye for prolonged loss of smell associated with foods like bananas, pickles or licorice.
3. Trouble Sleeping, Walking and Moving
While it’s normal as your loved one ages to have some sleep problems off and on, it shouldn’t be consistent. If you notice your loved one is thrashing around in bed or acting out their dreams, it could be a red flag. Similarly, if your loved one is starting to have frequent stiffness in their body, arms or legs, then it could be an early sign of Parkinson’s disease. Motor symptoms are a key symptom of Parkinson’s, and you should meet with a physician.
4. Frequent Constipation
If you or other family members notice your loved one is starting to have trouble experiencing regular bowel movements, it could be an early sign of Parkinson’s. Since constipation is common if a person is dehydrated, on certain medications, or not eating properly, this symptom must be accompanied with others for it to be a potential Parkinson’s diagnosis.
5. Changes in Speech and Facial Expressions
“Facial masking” is a term used to describe individuals who have a consistent serious, depressed or mad look even when it doesn’t match how they’re feeling. It’s often one of the first signs of Parkinson’s disease and can be accompanied by changes in speech. If your loved one starts to speak low or soft, it could be a sign you should mention to a doctor.
What should you do if you notice more than one of these signs in your loved one? Speak with a physician. Family members should work with a family physician to get a definitive diagnosis. From there, you can find additional support through social workers, assisted living and physical therapy.
Finding Support Through Every Stage of Parkinson’s Disease
While many individuals may wish to remain at home for as long as possible, sometimes assisted living is the best option for individuals with Parkinson’s disease. At Sedgebrook, we offer the ideal setting for individuals with Parkinson’s disease by providing round-the-clock attention, compassion and encouragement. Learn more about our continuing care retirement community and contact us today.