Early Signs of Parkinson’s Disease in Seniors

In this blog, let’s delve into Parkinson’s disease, its symptoms, and how you can help an older loved one cope with the challenges it brings to daily life.
Early Signs of Parkinson’s Disease in Seniors

According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, approximately one million older people in the United States are living with Parkinson’s disease. Each year, 90,000 new diagnoses are made. In most cases, symptoms of the illness begin slowly, but progress over time.

In this blog, let’s delve into Parkinson’s disease, its symptoms, and how you can help an older loved one cope with the challenges it brings to daily life.

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s disease is a brain disorder that causes involuntary and uncontrollable movements, which include tremors of the arms, hands, and legs. The condition also brings about debilitating stiffness, and problems with balance and coordination.

Elderly woman suffering from pain in hand at home, she is sitting in armchair in her room.
At home on hospice with wife.

What Causes Parkinson’s?

Parkinson’s disease is caused by damage to nerve cells in the basal ganglia area of the brain. These nerve cells produce an important chemical called dopamine, which helps control movement.

Seniors with Parkinson’s also lose the ability to produce norepinephrine, an important chemical messenger in the body’s sympathetic nervous system that regulates heart rate, and blood pressure.

Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease in Older Adults   

If you suspect that your loved one might be developing Parkinson’s disease, be watchful for these early symptoms:

  • Shaking (tremors) in hands, arms, legs, jawline, or head.
  • Long-lasting muscle stiffness.
  • Impaired movement.
  • Balance and coordination issues.
  • Low voice tone.
  • Loss of Smell.
  • Small handwriting style.
  • Change in posture.
Elderly female hand holding hand of young caregiver at nursing home.
A middle aged woman of African decent wraps her arm around her Mother as she embraces her

Other lesser-known symptoms include:

  • Dementia.
  • Depression or anxiety.
  • Increasing difficulty with swallowing, chewing, and speaking.
  • Incontinence.
  • Skin issues.

Should you notice your loved one experiencing any of these symptoms, speak to their doctor right away. Although there are no specific blood or lab tests to diagnose Parkinson’s, a complete neurological exam can be a great help in getting an accurate diagnosis.

Treatment for Parkinson’s Disease

There is currently no cure for Parkinson’s disease. However, numerous treatment strategies are available today.

Medication

The main goals of Parkinson’s medication are to increase the level of dopamine in the brain, and have a positive effect on its neurotransmitters, which carry information between cells. The most common medication prescribed today is Levodopa, designed to stimulate nerve cells in the brain to produce dopamine.

Other medications used for Parkinson’s include:

  • Dopamine Agonists – Stimulates the production of dopamine.
  • Amantadine – Decreases involuntary movements.
  • Enzyme Inhibitors – Slows enzymes that break down dopamine.
  • Anticholinergic Drugs – Reduces trembling and rigidity of muscle tissue.
Young carer walking with the elderly woman in the park.
Afro american female home nurse talking with senior woman, sitting in living room and holding her hands.

Deep Brain Stimulation

This procedure involves the insertion of electrodes into the part of the brain that controls movement. The electrodes are connected to a device implanted in the chest. Painless stimulation is sent to the brain, which has been shown to reduce or stop tremors.

Additional Therapies

Other measures can be taken to help manage symptoms associated with Parkinson’s.

  • Physical, occupational, or speech therapy.
  • A nutritious, well-balanced diet.
  • Exercise to maintain flexibility.
  • Massage & Yoga.

Frontier Senior Living is Here to Help  

In most cases, the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease progress slowly. In time, however, your loved one’s ability to care for themselves could diminish. Should that occur, Frontier Senior Living is here to help.

Our compassionate and knowledgeable team has assisted many families find the perfect Senior Living community to meet their loved one’s specific needs.

If you would like to learn more about our services, and how we help residents live lives full of purpose and meaning, we invite you to visit one of our communities, take a tour, and visit with our friendly and caring staff.

Find a community near you
that perfectly fits your needs.

Nearby Communities

The Parc at Harbor View Senior Living

46 Lincoln Street
Winthrop, Massachusetts 02152
(857) 349-5044
Levels of Care:

Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

Keepsake Village of Columbus Memory Care

2564 Fox Pointe Drive
Columbus, Indiana 47203
(812) 900-4936
Levels of Care:

Assisted Living, Memory Care

The Preserve at Hickory Woods Senior Living


Nashville, Tennessee 37013
Levels of Care:

Assisted Living, Memory Care