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What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson's Disease (PD) is one of the most common nervous system disorders.  It is a chronic movement disorder that gets worse over time. Almost one million people in the US are facing the debilitating symptoms that Parkinson's disease causes. The cause is unknown, and although there is presently no cure, there are treatment options such as medication and surgery to manage its symptoms.

Individual symptoms vary, but primary motor signs of Parkinson's disease include the following.

  • tremor of the hands, arms, legs, jaw and face
  • slowness of movement
  • postural instability or impaired balance and coordination
  • rigidity or stiffness of the limbs and trunk

Many celebrities have or are facing life with PD.  After retiring from boxing, Mohammed Ali began showing symptoms and was diagnosed with PD at the age of 42.  Michael J. Fox was diagnosed at the age of 30 with young onset Parkinson Disease.  His foundation is dedicated to finding a cure, aggressive research and developing improved therapies for those living with PD today.   Former US Attorney General, Janet Reno, is an active advocate for PD research. 

People with Parkinson’s disease rely on their caregivers for a wide range of support – from getting them dressed to driving them to a doctor’s appointment.  Dependence on a caregiver will increase substantially as the disease progresses.  For example, the patient may experience difficulty in walking or maintaining balance, dementia, hallucinations, severe depression, etc.\

So the caregivers must take care of themselves, too.  Being a caregiver can be complicated.  It can be a physically and emotionally draining experience. The caregivers need to learn how to handle their role as a caregiver.

Doctors strongly encourage caregivers to be involved in the treatment plan.  Caregivers should take care of themselves and not neglect their own health by getting regular exercise, eating a balanced diet and getting adequate sleep.  Caregivers should consider joining a support group.  And when necessary, caregivers should seek outside and professional help. 

Editor’s Note:  This article was provided by Always Best Care. For more information, call  267-812-5744 or bgreene@abc-seniors.com

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