6 Early Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease in the Elderly

Even though doctors haven’t come up with a permanent cure for Parkinson’s, some of the most serious symptoms can be mitigated when this disease is caught early, which is why families must constantly be on the lookout for any signs their aging loved one might be developing Parkinson’s. The La Mesa elderly home care experts at Coast Care Partners offer a quick look at six early warning signs of Parkinson’s and a few steps that can be taken to alleviate the symptoms. 

1. Changes in Sleeping Habits

Most seniors naturally begin to sleep less as they grow older, but these changes should come gradually. If you notice your loved one is only sleeping a few hours every night or tossing and turning when sleeping, schedule an appointment with his or her primary doctor or a sleep specialist. There are many ways to treat sleep issues, including prescription medications, special pillows, CPAP machines, and strict nighttime routines. 

2. Issues with Sense of Smell

Scientists still don’t know why some people begin to lose their sense of smell during the earliest stages of Parkinson’s. Some neurologists believe Parkinson’s damages the areas of the brain responsible for interpreting external stimuli. Not much can be done to treat this symptom, and most seniors become accustomed to their loss of smell. 

3. Constipation

This symptom can be caused by a wide variety of issues, and you should be wary if you loved one is constipated for more than a few days. Even the medications used to treat Parkinson’s can result in constipation, and a comprehensive approach must be taken to treat this issue. Your loved one might benefit from stool softeners, dietary changes, and increased exercise throughout the week. 

4. Chronic Neck Pain

Parkinson’s experts still aren’t sure why this symptom is much more common among females. It often begins with a stiff neck or mild discomfort, but it eventually evolves into persistent pain that makes daily life difficult to manage. This type of discomfort is usually managed with medications such as corticosteroids, NSAIDs, or levodopa. 

5. Sudden Changes to Speech Patterns

Parkinson’s also damages the area of the brain that controls the neck and mouth. In addition to changes in speech, some seniors who are in the earliest stages of this disease find it difficult to swallow. Speech therapists usually attempt to minimize this symptom by strengthening the neck and mouth muscles, which can be done with daily speech drills, breathing exercises, and singing.

6. Limited Arm Movement

Much like neck pain, this symptom often begins with slight stiffness. Over time, your loved one may no longer be able to move his or her arms while walking or raise them above the head. Many experts treat limited arm movement as if it were arthritis. A comprehensive treatment plan might include physical therapy, daily stretching, and over-the-counter painkillers.

Caring for a senior loved one with Parkinson’s can be overwhelming, increasing the risk of burnout. In these cases, family caregivers can benefit greatly from respite care. La Mesa, CA, families can rely on Coast Care Partners to help their loved one enjoy a higher quality of life and maintain a higher level of independence. Call 619-354-2544 to learn more.