April 11 is World Parkinson’s Day. The red tulip is used as a symbol of the disease, which affects nerve cells in the brain and makes movement difficult. In the later stages of the progressive disease, dementia becomes common, making the condition a key reason why our Huntsville Assisted Living Community can help someone with Parkinson’s achieve the help he or she needs.
Parkinson’s was first characterized extensively by an English doctor, James Parkinson, in 1817. Today, clinicians characterize it as a movement disorder. The single biggest risk factor for Parkinson’s disease is advancing age. Men have a somewhat higher risk than women. The usual onset of Parkinson’s is by age 60. When it strikes before the age of 50, as in the case of Michael J. Fox, it is called “young-onset PD”. Assisted Living is not just for seniors, as it also works for those on short-term stays recovering from injury or illness.
Two key advantages of an assisted living community are proximity to skilled medical care, as needed, and structural elements such as railing for those with balance issues to prevent accidental falls. Those with Parkinson’s can also avoid the awkwardness or embarrassment they might feel in fumbling for bills or credit cards while shopping or tremors that cause temporary rattling. A supportive environment staffed with compassionate caregivers means greater acceptance from others as well as increased confidence.
Visit a movement disorders specialist if you think you may be experiencing Parkinson’s symptoms, such as:
- Bradykinesia (slowness of movement): slowing down and loss of spontaneous and voluntary movement
- Rigidity: unusual stiffness in a limb or other body part
- Resting tremor: an uncontrollable movement that affects a limb when it is at rest and stops for the duration of a voluntary movement
Other motor symptoms also appear in PD:
- Postural instability: problems with standing or walking, or impaired balance and coordination
- Other physical symptoms, such as gait problems and reduced facial expression, may also occur due to the same disruption of movement that causes the better-known tremor and slowness
Depression and anxiety can also commonly accompany other symptoms, although the signs can vary from person to person. In fact, similar symptoms can cause confusion between whether someone suffers from Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis or other conditions. Depression in Parkinson’s patients can start before motor symptoms even arise. In assisted living environments, great care is typically taken to understand potential drug interactions between antidepressants and Parkinson’s treatments. Understanding the dangers of combining incompatible drugs prevents tragic accidents.
The exact cause of Parkinson’s disease is unknown, although research points to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. According to the Michael J. Fox Foundation, researchers identified a number of rare instances where Parkinson’s disease appears to be caused by a single genetic mutation. In these cases, the mutated gene is passed from generation to generation, resulting in a great number of Parkinson’s disease cases within an extended family.
Until a cure is found for Parkinson’s, Assisted Living communities like Regency can help preserve independence and ensure safety, giving residents and their loved ones the peace of mind that great care and compassion will go into their experience. A visit can alleviate fears about transitioning from home to our community as questions are answered.
To learn more about Regency, call us at (256) 852-0033.
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