Parkinson’s disease is a little understood disorder that affects the central nervous system. Many people just think it only causes shakiness or mild dementia, but there are many other symptoms associated with Parkinson’s. Watch for these symptoms if you are a family caregiver for a loved one who has Parkinson’s. If your aging loved one needs occasional help with bathing, grooming, cooking, or other basic household tasks, or if you need time to attend to important personal matters, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of live-in and respite care. Temple seniors can maintain their independence while living at home with the help of our reliable respite caregivers.
Learning about these lesser-known symptoms of Parkinson’s disease can help seniors get the treatment they need.
This symptom means a senior has slower motions. Steps can become shorter, and seniors with Parkinson’s may not swing their arms as far when they walk. The symptom mostly affects repetitive movements, so seniors might find their rate of finger tapping, teeth brushing, or typing slows down. It can cause a senior’s face to appear almost masklike because facial expressions slow down or halt.
2. Anxiety Disorders
The anxiety disorders associated with Parkinson’s cause issues beyond moderate feelings of worry. Seniors with Parkinson’s can experience debilitating phobias that prevent them from doing daily tasks. They may also face sudden bouts of panic. These occur because Parkinson’s prevents the brain from functioning properly and monitoring adrenaline levels in the body.
3. Loss of Smell
For many seniors with Parkinson’s, losing the sense of smell is one of the earliest signs of the disease. This can start as occasional periods of not being able to smell, but eventually progresses to an almost complete loss of the sense of smell.
4. Low Blood Pressure
The medical name for this symptom is orthostatic hypotension, and it occurs if a senior’s blood pressure drops whenever changing positions. It tends to cause an overwhelming feeling of dizziness or lightheadedness right after standing up, and it typically passes after a minute or two.
Dystonia is the medical term for intense, prolonged muscle cramps. These contractions can be so strong that they pull the senior’s body into abnormal postures. This symptom can be quite painful, but medications that stop Parkinson’s tremors also help prevent dystonia.
6. Difficulty Speaking
Parkinson’s affects the movements of the vocal cords, tongue, and lips. Seniors with the condition may start to slur or soften their voice. Speech may sound quiet, mumbled, or rapid. This symptom can sometimes be treated through voice therapy.
Up to 60 percent of people with Parkinson’s have depression, but many mistakenly think it is caused by feeling sad about the diagnosis. In reality Parkinson’s alters the areas of the brain that produce mood-boosting chemicals like dopamine and serotonin. Without these chemicals to moderate a senior’s mood, he or she may experience sudden depression.
Providing care for a senior who is experiencing symptoms of Parkinson’s such as depression and anxiety can be challenging for family members. Temple senior care experts are available to provide high-quality care to seniors on an as-needed basis. From assistance with mobility and exercise to providing transportation to the doctor’s office and social events, there are a variety of ways professional caregivers can help your aging loved one continue to live independently.
8. Trouble Sleeping
The chemical imbalances that cause depression in seniors with Parkinson’s can also trigger insomnia. Muscle tremors can make it difficult for seniors to sleep, further worsening sleep disorders. Parkinson’s is commonly associated with difficulty falling or staying asleep.
Aging in place can be challenging when living with Parkinson’s disease. Luckily, seniors can rely on dedicated caregivers who are trained in specialized Parkinson’s care. Temple, TX, families can benefit from Parkinson’s care as well. If you need a break from caring for your elderly loved one, the caregivers at Home Care Assistance can provide respite for you while helping your loved one manage important everyday tasks. Call 254-856-0600 to speak with a Care Manager and learn about our senior care services.