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10 symptoms of Parkinson’s disease : Recognizing The First Signs

Widely known for its tremor-like symptoms, Parkinson’s disease is one of the most common degenerative diseases affecting the elderly population. With multiple signs and manifestations, Parkinson‘s disease symptoms can be subdivided into two main categories : motor symptoms (associated with movement) and non-motor symptoms.

Learn more about what are the 10 symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, and how to recognize these signs. This will help identify potential solutions to the problems that threaten the autonomy and quality of life of seniors affected by this condition.

1.  Resting Tremor : A Sign of Parkinson?

One of the most common symptoms of Parkinson’s is tremor. Affecting around 70% of people with Parkinson’s, rest tremor involves the appearance of involuntary movements, most often affecting the upper limbs (arms, hands, fingers).

Shaking hands or thumb tremors ? Please consult your doctor or specialist to determine the cause and verify if the problem might be a sign of Parkinson’s disease.

2. Language Alterations

Speech disorders associated with Parkinson’s are part of the daily reality for many seniors living with this disease. Characterized by a weak, monotonous voice, these disorders result from a combination of muscle weakness in the facial and throat muscles involved in speech (dysarthria), and concurrent cognitive changes.

Have you noticed the onset of communication difficulties and you wonder if it might be a symptom of Parkinson’s disease? Please refer to your doctor or a speech therapist, who can assist you.

3. Small Handwriting

Have you noticed that your handwriting has become harder to read than it used to be? Has the way you write been transformed into smaller letters and crammed words? Also known as micrographia, significant change in handwriting may be a warning sign of Parkinson’s disease.

However, handwriting can also change normally as we age, especially if other health problems are involved, such as stiffness in the hands, or simply poor vision, for example.

4. Slow Movements

Referred to by the medical term “bradykinesia”, slowness of movement is also one of the most frequent symptoms associated with a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. These slow movements, often accompanied by a decrease in amplitude, may emerge in stages as the condition progresses.

Of course, such Parkinson’s symptoms should not be confused with other movement disorders associated with physical injury or osteoarthritis, for example.

5. Muscle Stiffness and Pain

Muscle stiffness is also one of the most common motor symptoms. For some people, this rigidity of the muscles will cause an inability or difficulty in initiating movement (akinesia), as well as being a source of pain.

Of course, putting these symptoms into context is essential, ruling out other possible causes before concluding Parkinson’s disease.

6. Walking Difficulties / Imbalance

Among the elderly population living with Parkinson’s disease, problems of imbalance and walking difficulties are quite common. In addition to the onset of muscular rigidity and slowness of movement, coordination disorders (ataxia) are also involved.

If you notice these symptoms, please check with your physician to determine if there may be other underlying causes and seek the best treatment options to maintain maximum autonomy in your daily activities.

7. Changed Facial Expressions

In association with stiffness, the person’s mimics may be altered (hypomimia). Initially characterized by a loss of facial expression, changes in voice and speech may also occur as this Parkinson’s symptom progresses.

Noticing significant changes in the intonation of an elderly relative‘s voice, or abnormal rigidity in facial expression? Do not hesitate to discuss this with the attending healthcare professional.

8. Depression Associated with Parkinson’s Disease

Did you know that depression can, in some cases, be considered as the first sign of Parkinson’s disease? Indeed, this psychological symptom may appear several years before the onset of Parkinson’s motor symptoms, ultimately impacting nearly 1 in 2 people during the progression of the disease.

Although the causes of depression and anxiety can obviously be connected to many other factors, these mood changes should never be underestimated. Do you suspect you’re affected by such symptoms? Or do you observe signs of depression in an elderly family member? Some resources are available to assist you in this situation.

9. Cognitive Disorders and Dementia

Although Parkinson’s motor symptoms are the most prevalent, potential neurocognitive disorders affecting people suffering from Parkinson’s disease are still a serious concern. Typically occurring later, in the advanced stages of Parkinson’s, these symptoms may impair thinking, memory and concentration, and even evolve into hallucinations or compulsive disorders.

While aggressive behavior does not occur in all cases of the disease, it is still a symptom to be aware of. In need of assistance? Contact our caring, compassionate Senior Living Advisors who can guide you to the best resources available, without any obligation or cost.

10. Swallowing Problems

As Parkinson’s progresses over time, the intensity of symptoms tends to increase. When the muscles responsible for swallowing are affected, seniors living with Parkinson’s may experience difficulties chewing and swallowing food.

If you notice similar symptoms in a close relative, precautions should be taken to reduce their impact. Unfortunately, when uncontrolled, choking risks may increase. To help seniors in their daily routine, professional home care services can be proposed to ensure that they can enjoy a comfortable lifestyle at home.

Parkinsonian Syndrome and Additional Signs of Parkinson’s Disease

Although all the preceding symptoms are characteristic of Parkinson’s disease, they may, in some cases, be related to other health problems. That’s why it is so important to seek medical advice from a medical professional as soon as possible.

Parkinsonism: what is it?

Also known as atypical parkinsonian disorders, parkinsonism refers to symptom patterns that are typical of Parkinson’s but attributable to a different cause.

* Lewy Body Dementia (LBD) is a good example of a neurodegenerative disease that is often associated with Parkinsonian syndromes.

Other Symptoms Related to the Progression of Parkinson’s Disease

In addition to the 10 most common ones, listed above, Parkinson’s disease may cause other physical and psychological symptoms and disorders among seniors.

  • Constipation, incontinence and bladder problems ;
  • Sleep disorders / insomnia ;
  • Hallucinations ;
  • Restless legs syndrome ;
  • Impaired sense of taste and smell ;
  • and more.

What to Do When Faced with a Diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease?

In collaboration with your medical doctor, a plan can be established after a positive diagnosis of Parkinson’s, aiming to maintain optimal health conditions.

Based on your own situation, this could include:

  • Referral to a neurologist, a doctor specializing in the nervous system and brain;
  • Follow-up by healthcare professionals such as an occupational therapist, physiotherapist, speech therapist, etc. (depending on symptoms) ;
  • Initiate a regular exercise program to delay the onset of other symptoms;
  • Explore resources to help ensure your well-being daily.

Specialized Resources and Personalized Support

As symptoms progress, the autonomy of the senior affected may unfortunately tend to be reduced. Intense tremors, as well as other motor problems such as muscle stiffness, are likely to limit the ability to perform basic daily activities. This also applies to non-motor symptoms, which also affect the lifestyle of seniors suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

Thankfully, adapted solutions exist to help seniors and their families manage through these challenges. 

  • Specialized Home Support Services

Visavie‘s professional caregivers are available locally to provide specialized home care services for seniors living with Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders. Always striving to be responsive and attentive to seniors’ evolving needs.

  • Caring transition to the ideal retirement home for each senior

Time to make the transition to a more supportive, comfortable and secure living environment? Visavie‘s experienced advisors will accompany you step-by-step in your search for the perfect retirement home for you or your elderly loved one.  With no cost and no obligation, take advantage of the expertise and personalized advice of your local Senior Living Advisor from Visavie.

All in all, Parkinson’s disease symptoms are having a real impact on the daily lives of affected seniors. While some of the early signs of Parkinson’s must be distinguished from a normal aging process, or associated with other health problems, it is crucial to ensure that each of these symptoms is properly managed.

Concern about any of these 10 symptoms of Parkinson’s disease? Whether it’s about you, an aging parent or a senior close to you, do not hesitate to seek medical advice for an accurate diagnosis, and get help from the resources available to you.

Available 24/7, and dedicated to helping seniors since 1988, the Visavie team‘s mission is to support you and your family through a caring and professional approach.

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