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When a person is diagnosed with Parkinson’s, it impacts family members in addition to the person diagnosed. Understanding what to expect as the disease progresses is key to being prepared for the changes in the future and also to make life the very best it can be every day.

Throughout the next  couple of months, we will be posting blogs about what to expect in each stage of Parkinson’s disease. The blogs will include information about what family care providers can do to best help a senior with Parkinson’s, and how Hearts at Home In-Home Care, a leading provider of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s care in Kansas City and nearby areas, can help. Read part two of our series.

Early Stage Parkinson’s

Each person experiences Parkinson’s differently, but in general, the first stage symptoms are relatively mild, and most experience no functional impairment. One side of the body is usually affected first, with occasional tremors and/or inflexibility in one hand or leg or expression changes in one part of the face.

As the disease continues through the first stage, both sides of the body begin to undergo these changes. This development can take months or possibly years. While balance typically remains unimpaired at this stage, other changes can sometimes include:

  • A softer tone of voice, or one which begins loud but fades in volume as the person continues to talk
  • Slurred speech
  • Decreased blinking along with other facial expression changes
  • A general sluggishness in doing daily activities
  • Increased stiffness and/or rigidity in muscles
  • Neck or back pain
  • A more stooped posture

The Impact of Early Stage Parkinson’s on Family Care Providers

The initial diagnosis and early stage can be a difficult time both for the person with the disease and for close family members. Taking time to sort out these emotions is very important, through professional counseling, talking with a clergy member or good friend, journaling, and exploring Parkinson’s support groups, either virtual or in person.

While hands-on care is usually not needed (or welcomed) at this point, it’s a good time to start to put a plan in place for the changes ahead. For instance, contemplate whether you’ll want to work outside the home as the disease advances, or if you desire to be home to provide full-time care. Would the person diagnosed prefer to remain in the home throughout the progression of the disease, or to move into a care facility? Who can become part of your support network to let you take regular breaks for self-care and also to manage shopping, housework, preparing meals, as well as the other required everyday chores?

Hearts at Home In-Home Care’s senior care professionals are here to help you through each stage of Parkinson’s. We can help you devise a proactive plan of care that will guarantee all needs are met now, and as they change in the future.

It is important to remember that caregiving should never be a solo endeavor. Give us a call at 913-440-4209 for a no-cost in-home assessment to learn more about our senior care services and how we are able to ease the transition through Parkinson’s for both you and the senior you love.