5 Signs of Early Stage Parkinson’s in Seniors

By , 9:00 am on

When Parkinson’s disease is diagnosed and treated early, its progression may be slowed. Parkinson’s is a neurological disorder that causes several noticeable symptoms. However, in the early stages, symptoms may be very subtle. Here are five warning signs of Parkinson’s disease in older adults.

1. Abnormal Gait

An abnormal gait is caused by neurological dysfunction, and it may cause your senior loved one to stop and go while ambulating or walk hunched over. Parkinson’s disease can also cause loss of balance and raise the risk for falls. If your loved one appears rigid when walking or hesitates between steps, make an appointment with a neurologist to perform a neurological assessment and determine if your loved one’s symptoms are Parkinson’s related.

If your loved one has balance issues severe enough to cause difficulty with the routine activities of daily life, he or she may get a great deal of benefit from having a professional caregiver help with everyday tasks. Families looking for top-rated Victoria elderly 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.

2. Expressionless Face

When Parkinson’s disease affects the neurological function of the facial nerves, your loved one may develop an expressionless face. The facial features can appear masklike, and because your loved one may be unable to control muscle movement, he or she may lose the ability to smile. Certain psychological disorders and medications can also cause a blank expression or stare, but they’re not typically associated with nerve damage.

3. Speaking Difficulties

As people get older, their voices may sound weak or shaky because of vocal cord changes. However, the voice changes associated with Parkinson’s disease are caused by neurological damage. If your loved one starts speaking in a monotone or if speech patterns are slow, encourage him or her to see the doctor for a neurological checkup.

4. Swallowing Issues

Because neurological deficits can affect the swallowing muscles, your loved one may be unable to tolerate thin liquids or certain foods. Parkinson’s-related swallowing disorders can raise the risk for aspiration pneumonia when food goes down the trachea, or windpipe, instead of the esophagus. If your loved one experiences coughing, fever, chills, loss of appetite, or wheezing, aspiration pneumonia may be present. The doctor can listen to the lungs and order diagnostic imaging tests if pneumonia is suspected. 

Difficulty swallowing and other safety issues in the advanced stages of Parkinson’s disease can make caring for aging adults increasingly challenging. For many seniors in Victoria, live-in care is an essential component of aging in place safely and comfortably. However, it’s important for them to have caregivers they can trust and rely on. At Home Care Assistance, we extensively screen all of our live-in and 24-hour caregivers and only hire those who have experience in the senior home care industry. Our strict requirements ensure seniors can remain in the comfort of home with a reduced risk of injury or serious illness.

5. Shaking

Parkinson’s-related shaking is referred to as tremors, and it can be mild in the early stages of the disease and severe as the disease progresses. Hand tremors are more noticeable when at rest, and they may prevent seniors from holding pens or pencils to write. Drinking may also be difficult if your loved one is unable to steadily grasp a glass or cup. Medications such as beta blockers can keep hand tremors under control and may even be effective in treating other Parkinson’s symptoms, such as cogwheel rigidity, unsteady gait, and swallowing problems.

Early diagnosis is critical because Parkinson’s disease can be particularly challenging in its final stages, and family caregivers can easily get overwhelmed. If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of home care Victoria, BC, families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. Reach out to us at Home Care Assistance if you need compassionate, professional care for your loved one. Call one of our dedicated Care Managers today at (250) 592-4881 to learn about the high quality of our in-home care services.