Five Stages Of Parkinson’s DiseaseJoe Perricone
Nearly 1 million Americans live with Parkinson's disease, and approximately 60,000 more will be diagnosed before this year is over, but the actual number of people suffering as a result of the disease is of a magnitude higher than that. As debilitating as Parkinson's is, it is even more insidious because of the extreme stress the disease places on the loved ones of a person suffering from Parkinson's. If you or someone you care about has been diagnosed with Parkinson's, the road ahead is likely to be difficult and frustrating at times. However, understanding the stages of can help alleviate that frustration and make life a bit easier for those suffering from the disease as well as their care partners.
In the first stage of Parkinson's, a person may exhibit trembling in the hands or limbs, or they might suffer from fits of uncontrollable shaking. Loss of balance and poor posture also are symptoms typically seen during this stage. The initial diagnosis takes a heavy emotional toll on the patient as well as his or her family, but care partners can make things easier by keeping a level head and offering the patient their support. Loved ones who are organized and prepared can be invaluable to a patient whose life is soon to become overtaken with doctor’s visits, therapy sessions and medications.
Parkinson's begins to take more of a toll on a patient’s independence in its second stage. For example, they begin to have a much harder time completing simple everyday tasks such as tying their shoes, and walking becomes more difficult for them. For loved ones watching the disease progress, it can be difficult for them not to take over and begin doing most things for the patient. However, in most cases it is important for the patient to be allowed to do as much as possible for himself or herself, as feelings of helplessness can worsen the depression that often comes with a Parkinson's diagnosis.
By the third stage of Parkinson's, patients may have much greater difficulty in communicating, and their physical movements become much slower and more labored. For care partners, facilitating communication becomes more important, and they should remember to always talk to the patients face to face and ask them to repeat themselves if they are having difficulty understanding them. Also, communicating through simple “yes/no” questions will help make things easier for the patient and his or her care partners.
By the time a patient enters the fourth stage of Parkinson's, it may be impossible for him or her to live independently. A patient may be able to take only a few steps at a time, and this stage also is marked by significantly more difficulty in moving at all. This stage might be the most emotionally draining for the care partners, as they are more than likely to be devoting much of their free time to caring for their loved one. Although they may feel guilty in doing so, it’s important for care partners to take a break now and then to clear their heads and relieve stress.
In the final stage of Parkinson's, a patient is most likely in a full-time care facility because he or she is incapable of caring for himself or herself. For care partners and other loved ones, the emotional burden of this disease is more than they are likely able to bear on their own. That’s why numerous support groups exist, to give these people an opportunity to share strength and sympathy with one another.
There is no doubt that Parkinson's is a disease that brings pain and sorrow to more than just the patient suffering from the disease. For family members, friends and care partners, seeing their loved ones suffer through the disease can be a grueling experience. Nothing as yet discovered can take away this suffering completely, but some basic understanding and a clear perspective can make the road ahead a bit easier.
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Author: Joe Perricone
Author's Bio: Joe Perricone is director of patient advocacy with TruStem Cell Therapy. For nore information: https://trustemcell.com/