A guide to Parkinson’s disease

April 14, 2022 Parkinsons Care

A guide to Parkinson’s disease

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s Disease is a progressive neurological condition that affects the nervous system. It is where parts of the brain becomes progressively damaged over time due to the malfunction of vital nerve cells in the brain.

What causes Parkinson’s disease?

Parkinson’s disease is caused by the loss of nerve cells in a part of the brain. This leads to a reduction of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is essential in regulating the movement of the body. Researchers believe that it results from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Exactly what causes the loss of nerve, however, is still unknown.

What are the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease?

Symptoms usually begin gradually. There are 3 main symptoms of Parkinson’s:

  • Tremors or involuntary shaking of parts of the body
  • Rigidity or stiff and inflexible muscles
  • Slow movement

Someone with Parkinson’s can also experience a wide range of other physical and psychological symptoms which can include:

  • Anxiety, depression, and low mood
  • Loss of taste and smell
  • Changes in sleep pattern or insomnia
  • Memory and cognitive problems
  • Balance and posture problems that can lead to falls

How is Parkinson’s diagnosed?

There is no one single test that can diagnose Parkinson’s disease. Your GP will first base the diagnosis on symptoms, medical history, and a detailed physical examination. In the early stages, the GP may find it difficult to diagnose due to the symptoms being mild. If Parkinson’s is suspected, you will be referred to a specialist, usually a neurologist or geriatrician.

A series of physical exercises will be performed to assess any problems with movement. A diagnosis will then be made should you have at least 2 of 3 of the main symptoms.

The 5 stages of Parkinson’s

Parkinson’s disease is progressive. The rate of progression varies from person to person.

In beginning stages, symptoms are mild and unlikely to significantly affect one’s ability to function. In advanced stages, symptoms become more severe, and the person diagnosed with Parkinson’s will require varying levels of assistance with daily living.

Stage 1: Symptoms only on 1 side of the body including intermittent tremor and rigidity on one hand or side of the body.

Stage 2: Symptoms are now present on both sides of the body which may include abnormal speech, stooped posture, and stiffness or rigidity of muscles.

Stage 3: This is characterised by loss of balance and symptoms from stages 1 and 2 will also be present, making the diagnosis straightforward.

Stages 4: On top of the above symptoms, the person is now possibly using walking aids.

Stage 5: Constant support is now required which may be characterised by confinement to a bed or wheelchair. Cognitive problems as well as hallucinations and delusions may also be experienced.

Can Parkinson’s be cured?

Although there is currently no cure, treatments are available to help reduce the main symptoms and maintain the quality of life for as long as possible.

This can include:

  • Treatments such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy to strengthen muscles and maintain flexibility
  • Medication
  • In some cases, brain surgery

People experiencing early stages of Parkinson’s may not need any treatment. Regular appointments will need to be scheduled so that it can be monitored, and a care plan should be agreed with your healthcare team and family or carers.

Despite this, researchers are making advances in understanding the disease, its causes and how best to treat it.

Where can I find more information?

Your medical team will be one of your main sources of Parkinson’s information and help. You will have many questions and you should not be afraid or embarrassed to ask your doctor or medical team. Your team will have years of experience in treating Parkinson’s so good two-way communication will allow the tram to tailor the treatment to you and your individual needs.

Parkinson’s UK is the main Parkinson support and research charity in the UK. They will be able to direct you to the support groups in your local area.

How can Cavendish Homecare help?

We understand that a Parkinson’s diagnosis is a sensitive time for both the patient and their families. At Cavendish Homecare, our specialist nursing care and trustworthy support can make an impact on how you cope with the diagnosis. Our team of Homecare Managers, Registered Nurses and Carers have an abundance of experience and are experts at providing emotional and practical care and support for anyone who wishes to remain in their own homes while you receive treatment, recover from surgery, or manage medications.

If you would like to enquire about our specialist care, contact us on 02030085210 or email us at info@cavendishhomecare.com.

About the Author…

Esnart Namakando

Deputy Nurse Manager RN, DNE, BSc, MSc

Esnart Namakando is a highly accomplished nurse with over 30 years of nursing experience. She dedicated 23 years to the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability, where she rose to the role of Clinical Ward Manager, thriving in a fast-paced and challenging environment. Esnart has worked in various NHS and private hospitals in London as well as providing complex care to clients in their homes.

As the Deputy Nurse Manager at Cavendish Homecare, Esnart draws on her extensive expertise in neurological rehabilitation, stroke care, palliative & end-of-life care, Parkinson’s care and Dementia support. Esnart also specialises in delivering comprehensive training on subjects such as PEG feeding, stroke care, and falls prevention.

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