A Parkinson’s diagnosis impacts family members along with the person diagnosed. Understanding what to anticipate as the disease progresses is vital to being ready for the changes in the future and to make life the very best it can be every day.
Over the next few months, we will be sharing what to anticipate in each stage of Parkinson’s disease. Each blog post will include information about what family care providers can do to best help a family member with Parkinson’s, and how Live Free Home Health Care’s home care services in Bristol, NH and nearby areas can help. Read part two and part three of our series.
Early Stage Parkinson’s
Every person experiences Parkinson’s differently, but in general, the early stage symptoms are relatively mild, with no functional impairment. One side of the body is usually affected first, with occasional tremors and/or stiffness in a single hand or leg or expression changes in one part of the face.
As the disease continues through the early stage, both sides of the body will go through these changes. This development could take months or possibly years. While balance is still usually not impaired at this point, other changes may include:
- A quieter tone of voice, or one which begins loud but fades in volume as the person keeps talking
- Slurred speech
- Decreased blinking as well as other facial expression changes
- A general sluggishness in performing daily activities
- Increased stiffness and/or rigidity in muscles
- Neck or back pain
- An increasingly stooped posture
The Impact of Caring for Parkinson’s in the Early Stage on Family Caregivers
The initial diagnosis and early stage can be a difficult time for both the person with the disease and close family members. Taking time to work through these feelings is important, through professional counseling, talking with a clergy member or good friend, journaling, and participating Parkinson’s support groups, either online or in person.
While hands-on care is normally not needed (or welcomed) at this point, it is a good time for you to begin to put a plan in place for the changes in the future. For instance, contemplate whether you will want to work outside of the home as the disease advances, or if you want to be home to provide full-time care. Would the person diagnosed like to remain in the home throughout the progression of the disease, or transfer to a care facility? Who is able to become part of your support network to help you to take regular breaks for self-care and to attend to shopping, housework, preparing meals, and all of the other essential everyday tasks?
Live Free Home Health Care’s award-winning senior care professionals are here to assist you through each stage of Parkinson’s. We can help you develop a proactive plan of care that will ensure all needs are met now, and as they change in the future.
It is important to understand that caregiving should not be a solo endeavor. Reach out to us at 603-217-0149 for a complimentary in-home consultation to learn more about our in-home care services in Bristol and the surrounding area and just how we can ease the transition through Parkinson’s, both for you and the older adult you love.