A Parkinson’s disease diagnosis impacts members of the family as well as the person diagnosed. Understanding what to expect as the disease progresses is vital to being ready for the changes to come and to make life the very best it can be each day.

Throughout the next couple of months, we’ll be sharing what to expect in each stage of Parkinson’s disease, including what family care providers can do to best help a loved one with Parkinson’s, and how Anthem Home Care can help. Read part 2 and part 3 of our series.

Early Stage Parkinson’s

Each person experiences Parkinson’s differently, but in general, the initial symptoms are relatively mild, with no functional impairment. One side of the body is generally impacted first, with periodic tremors and/or rigidity in a single hand or leg, or expression changes in one part of the face.

As the illness continues through the first stage, both sides of the body will undergo these changes. This development can take months or even years. While balance is still usually not impaired at this point, other changes can include:

  • A softer tone of voice, or one which begins loud but fades in volume as the person keeps talking
  • Slurred speech
  • Decreased blinking and other facial expression changes
  • An overall sluggishness in carrying out daily activities
  • Increased stiffness and/or rigidity in muscles
  • Pain in the neck or back
  • A more stooped posture

The Effect of Early Stage Parkinson’s on Family Care Providers

The initial diagnosis and early stage can be a challenging time for both the person with the disease and close members of the family. Taking time to work through the emotions when caring for a senior loved one with Parkinson’s is very important. There are many ways to do this, including professional counseling, talking with a clergy member or good friend, journaling, and exploring Parkinson’s support groups, either online or in person.

While hands-on care is generally not needed (or welcomed) at this point, it is a good time to begin to put a plan in place for the changes to come. For example, think through whether you should work outside the home as the disease advances, or if you desire to be home to provide full-time care. Would the person diagnosed prefer to remain in the home throughout the progression of the disease, or move into a care facility? Who is able to join your support network to allow you to take regular breaks for self-care and also to attend to housework, meal prep, shopping, and all of the other necessary daily tasks?

Anthem Home Care, the award-winning provider of senior care in Portland, TX and the surrounding area, is here to help you through each stage of Parkinson’s. We can help you devise a practical plan of care that will guarantee all needs are met now, and as they change in the future.

It’s important to understand that caring for a senior loved one with Parkinson’s should never be a solo endeavor. Call us at 361-643-2323 for a complimentary in-home assessment for more information on our senior care services and how we are able to ease the transitions through Parkinson’s both for you and the senior you love.