In this guide, we’ll look at the five stages of Parkinson’s and how a home care plan can support treatment from your doctor. It is important to note that Parkinson’s will affect each person in a unique way — the stages are a guide to how the disease can progress and the symptoms that can appear. Not everyone will experience all symptoms. The order in which they appear, and the way symptoms progress varies from person to person.
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological condition. It causes problems in the brain which get worse, specifically affecting the levels of dopamine. Around 145,000 people in the UK are currently diagnosed with Parkinson’s and there is currently no cure. However, there are many treatments available, from drugs to therapies.
Although this guide seeks to address the physical effects of the disease, it’s important to remember that Parkinson’s symptoms are not limited to only physical or motor symptoms. There are other factors to consider including:
According to The Parkinson’s Foundation:
“During this initial stage, the person has mild symptoms that generally do not interfere with daily activities. Tremor and other movement symptoms occur on one side of the body only. Changes in posture, walking and facial expressions occur.”
Symptoms of Parkinson’s may not be that noticeable at this stage, but prescribed medications can work effectively to minimise and reduce them if they are more pronounced. A doctor will be able to assess and prescribe any treatments that can start to counteract the symptoms, even if they are not currently interfering too much with everyday life.
At this early stage of the disease, the best thing to do is get as much information as possible. Speak to loved ones about organising potential care, or, if you are helping a loved one to come to terms with the diagnosis and early symptoms, seek advice. You may also want to begin thinking about the later stages by planning for mobility aids or home care.
Here are some helpful resources:
In this stage, symptoms may be more noticeable. Tremors may start to appear and changes in facial expressions. Muscle stiffness might begin or get worse if it’s already being experienced. This could make walking a little more difficult and change posture.
Speech difficulties can start to arise too and some everyday tasks such as getting dressed or shopping may become a little tricky to navigate without help.
The majority of people with stage two Parkinson’s can still live alone, as the progression from stage one to stage two can take months or even years. It will be a unique experience for each person. However, if some tasks are becoming more difficult, home care options are available. Some options to consider:
An occupational therapist can provide help with ways to perform a task that has become more difficult (like eating) in a different way. They may also talk about using strategies, techniques and gadgets where you need them.
Practical changes, such as rearranging furniture at home to make it easier to move around are also something they can help with. Occupational therapists work with you and your loved ones to develop strategies to cope with tasks that may become a problem in the future.
There’s no recommended diet for Parkinson’s sufferers, but if you are taking medications or experiencing particular symptoms you might need to stop eating certain foods or alter your diet slightly. A dietician can help you to work out what you can and can’t eat.
As well as previous symptoms perhaps worsening, you may also experience loss of balance and mobility. As movements become slower, there is an increased risk of falls. Dressing and eating, in particular, will be more difficult. Memory impairments must also be considered, especially if numerous drugs or treatments repeat each day.
Further home care options that might help someone with stage-three Parkinson’s manage are:
Speech and language therapy
Communicating can be difficult for people with Parkinson’s. A speech and language therapist will develop exercises to help with volume and clarity of speech, but they can also assist with other problems like swallowing and eating and drinking. They will have a wide knowledge of tools or gadgets that can help.
This therapy can help people with Parkinson’s to manage everyday activities that involve sitting, walking, standing and getting in and out of the bath, a chair, bed etc. As well as useful stretches and exercises, physiotherapy can help to strengthen muscles and help people with more severe mobility issues to manage falls and gain confidence.
At this stage, mobility is likely to be a much greater concern. It can even be dangerous for some people to be left alone as the likelihood of a fall or confusion is higher. Movement may require a walker or other type of assistive device as limbs become painful or stiff. If a tremor is one of the symptoms being experienced, it may now be quite pronounced.
Many people are unable to live alone at this stage of Parkinson’s because of significant decreases in movement and reaction times. Aid with daily tasks such as eating and washing will now more than likely require assistance.
It may be time to consider long-term Parkinson’s home care nursing, in which case you are going to have questions. Read our guide on Parkinson’s disease questions to ask when looking for home nursing.
This is the most advanced and debilitating stage of Parkinson’s disease. For many, they may now be confined to bed or require a wheelchair as they can no longer walk. Because Parkinson’s is a neurological disease, and due to some of the side effects of drug treatment, people may also experience hallucinations and delusions. This can be difficult to manage for a carer. If you are looking after someone with Parkinson’s, be sure to seek support.
Parkinson’s UK has an entire section on its site that can help those caring for someone with Parkinson’s.
Round-the-clock care is likely to be required at stage five. Most tasks will require some form of assistance. Cavendish Homecare can help you to decide on the best plan for caring for yourself or a loved one. This includes palliative home care.
We pride ourselves on being able to deliver private home care that’s professional, organised and efficient, plus tailored to an individual’s needs. Our flexible packages can be adapted if circumstances change.
If you have any questions or wish to speak to one of our friendly team, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today or visit our help centre for more articles on home nursing, dementia care and more.