What Is Parkinsons Disease SonderCare Learning Center Image
Home Healthcare
What Is Parkinson's Disease?
Last Updated –

SonderCare Learning Center

Dave D.
Dave D.

Health & Medical Writer
Written & Researched

Kyle S.
Kyle S.

Home Care Expert
Fact Checker & Commentary

Coping with Parkinson’s disease can be a difficult and complex journey. The illness’ harsh effects can ultimately spread to the individual’s family, friends and loved ones, so it’s important to have a support system in place to help manage the physical, emotional and mental challenges it comes with. Although Parkinson’s Disease has progressive and hard to manage symptoms, helpful tips and strategies can make things better.

Throughout this article, we’ll discuss the challenges of living with Parkinson’s Disease as well as strategies for coping. We’ll summarize popular tips for managing symptoms, finding emotional support from family and friends, and making lifestyle changes so you can live your best life even with chronic conditions. These helpful tips and strategies help you deal with the challenges of living with Parkinson’s Disease while at the same time answering the question, “What Is Parkinson’s Disease? ”.

SonderCare Editorial Policy

All of our articles are written by a professional medical writer and edited for accuracy by a hospital bed expert. SonderCare is a Hospital Bed company with locations across the U.S. and Canada. We distribute, install and service our certified home hospital beds across North America. Our staff is made up of several hospital bed experts that have worked in the medical equipment industry for more than 20 years. Read more about our company here.

Table of Contents
Learn About Parkinsonism and PD Patients

What Is Parkinson's Disease? A Comprehensive Guide & Medical Information for PD

Degradation of the nervous system is a result of Parkinson’s Disease, which is classified as a neurodegenerative disorder. Tremors, stiffness, difficulty with coordination, and balance are some of the symptoms of this chronic and progressive disease.

Parkinson’s Disease symptoms are often divided into motor symptoms and non-motor symptoms. Postural instability, shaking, rigidity, bradykinesia, and bradykinesia are some of the motor symptoms. Symptoms other than motor problems include depression, anxiety, cognitive impairment, sleep disorders, and gastrointestinal problems.

In Parkinson’s Disease, genetic and environmental factors are believed to be involved, but the cause is not yet fully understood. In the meantime, Parkinson’s Disease symptoms can be managed with many approved treatments and recent discoveries that are now currently available. A combination of medications, surgery and physical therapy may be used in these treatments.

In addition to the motor symptoms described above, a positive response to levodopa therapy is part of the diagnostic criteria for Parkinson’s Disease. Unlike other diseases, Parkinson’s disease cannot be diagnosed with a specific test, so clinical judgment is necessary for diagnosis.

While Parkinson’s Disease can have a significant effect on a person’s quality of life, with the right treatment and support, many people with the disease can live active and fulfilling lives. The key to effectively managing Parkinson’s disease symptoms is to work closely with a healthcare provider to develop a personalized treatment plan.

  • PD is caused by the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells.
  • PD is the second most common brain disease after Alzheimer's and its risk increases with age.
  • PD motor symptoms include tremor, stiffness, and slowness of movement, while non-motor symptoms include cognitive changes, depression, and sleep problems.
  • The cause of PD is likely a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
  • Current PD treatments cannot stop the disease's progression but can ease symptoms.
  • Treatment regimens should be individualized with a doctor, preferably a movement disorder specialist.
  • Everyone with PD experiences a unique mix of symptoms, and there is no standard trajectory or path.

Causes of Parkinsonism: From Nerve Cells to Environment

The cause of Parkinson’s Disease, as mentioned above, is not fully understood but it is believed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. There are several genetic mutations that have been identified as increasing the risk of developing Parkinson’s Disease. Additionally, exposure to certain environmental toxins, such as pesticides and herbicides, has also been linked to an increased risk of the disease.

In addition to the loss of dopamine-producing cells, there are also other changes that occur in the brains of individuals with Parkinson’s Disease. For example, there is an accumulation of a protein called alpha-synuclein in the brain, which is believed to play a role in the development of the disease. This protein clumps together to form Lewy bodies, which are found in the brains of individuals with Parkinson’s Disease.

By exploring possible causes behind this devastating disorder, we can better understand how we as individuals and communities can reduce our risk for developing it – thus bringing us closer to finding treatments and cures for those already suffering from it. 

Genetic Factors

Genetics play a crucial role in the development of Parkinson’s disease. It is estimated that up to 15% of people with Parkinson’s have someone in their family who also has the condition. While the exact cause of Parkinson’s is still unknown, researchers have identified several gene mutations that can increase an individual’s risk for developing the condition. Specifically, mutations in three genes are known to cause early-onset Parkinson’s, which typically appears before age 50. Mutations in two additional genes can increase an individual’s risk for late-onset Parkinson’s, which usually occurs after age 50. For those with no family history of the condition, it is believed that environmental factors may be at play in its development.

Looking in depth, some of the several genetic factors that are known to increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s Disease include mutations in genes, such as the SNCA, LRRK2, and PARK2 genes.

The SNCA gene provides instructions for making a protein called alpha-synuclein, which is found in Lewy bodies in the brains of individuals with Parkinson’s Disease. Mutations in this gene can lead to the overproduction of alpha-synuclein, which may contribute to the development of the disease.

The LRRK2 gene provides instructions for making a protein called dardarin, which is involved in regulating the activity of nerve cells in the brain. Mutations in this gene can increase the activity of dardarin, which may lead to the death of dopamine-producing cells in the brain.

The PARK2 gene provides instructions for making a protein called parkin, which is involved in the process of removing damaged or excess proteins from brain cells. Mutations in this gene can lead to the accumulation of toxic proteins in the brain, which may contribute to the development of Parkinson’s Disease.

In addition to these specific genes, there are also other genetic factors that have been linked to an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s Disease. For example, variations in the GBA gene, which provides instructions for making an enzyme called glucocerebrosidase, have been associated with an increased risk of the disease.

While genetic factors play a significant role in Parkinson’s Disease development, one must remember that not all with these mutations will develop the disease, and not all with Parkinson’s Disease have these mutations.

Environmental Factors

While genetic factors can play a role in developing the disease, environmental factors have been investigated in playing a contributing role to its onset.

One of the most well-known environmental risk factors for Parkinson’s disease is exposure to certain toxins, such as pesticides and herbicides. Studies have found that individuals who have been exposed to these chemicals have a higher risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. Other environmental factors that have been linked to Parkinson’s disease include head injuries, viral infections, and exposure to certain metals, such as manganese.

In addition to these environmental factors, there are also lifestyle factors that can increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. For example, smoking has been found to be associated with a lower risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, while a high intake of caffeine may be associated with a lower risk as well. Conversely, a diet that is high in saturated fats and low in fruits and vegetables may increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.

It’s important to keep in mind that environmental factors are still under investigation as contributing to the development of Parkinson’s disease, but not everyone who is exposed to these risks will get the disease. The relationship between environmental and genetic factors is complex, and studies are still ongoing to fully understand the mechanisms that lead to Parkinson’s disease.

Neurochemical Factors

As previously mentioned, dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for sending signals throughout the brain called, is decreased in Parkinson’s disease. Movement disorder, speech, and balance can be affected by a lack of dopamine. Parkinson’s symptoms may also be caused by changes in other neurotransmitters.

In addition to the loss of so called dopamine producing neurons, there are several other neurochemical changes that have been attributed to Parkinson disease. One of these changes is an increase in the activity of a neurotransmitter called glutamate, which can cause excessive stimulation of neurons and contribute to their degeneration.

Another neurochemical change is an increase in oxidative stress, which occurs when there is an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the body’s ability to detoxify them. This can lead to damage to cellular structures, including neurons.

Additionally, there is evidence of changes in the levels of several other neurotransmitters, including serotonin, norepinephrine, and acetylcholine, which can contribute to non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, such as depression and cognitive impairment.

Comprehending the intricate nature of these changes, and the various neurotransmitters and processes involved, is a difficult and complex task. But with careful and comprehensive research, we can get closer to unlocking the secrets of this condition and providing better relief to those who suffer from it.

  • Non-genetic risk factors play a part in most cases of Parkinson’s disease. de Lau, L. M., & Breteler, M. M. (2006). Epidemiology of Parkinson’s disease. The Lancet Neurology, 5(6), 525-535. doi: 10.1016/S1474-4422(06)70471-9.
  • Mutations in the -synuclein gene in the Contursi kindred implicated this gene in Parkinson’s disease. Singleton, A. B., Farrer, M. J., Johnson, J., Singleton, A., Hague, S., Kachergus, J., Hulihan, M., Peuralinna, T., Dutra, A., Nussbaum, R., Lincoln, S., Crawley, A., Hanson, M., Maraganore, D., Adler, C., Cookson, M. R., Muenter, M., Baptista, M., Miller, D., Blancato, J., Hardy, J., & Gwinn-Hardy, K. (2003).
  • α-Synuclein Locus Triplication Causes Parkinson’s Disease. Science, 302(5646), 841-841. doi: 10.1126/science.1090278.

  • The disease is slowly progressive and affects multiple areas of the brain as well as overall brain chemistry.
  • Other neurotransmitters, such as acetylcholine and serotonin, are also affected.
  • The cause of the loss of dopamine-producing cells is not fully understood.
  • The disease can cause non-motor symptoms such as sleep and mood disorders.
  • The loss of dopamine is not the sole cause of Parkinson's, but it is the main finding in the Parkinson's brain that differentiates it.
  • Researchers are still learning about what triggers the loss of dopamine-producing cells.

Diagnosis and Tests of Symptoms and Causes of Parkinson's Disease

As briefly touched on above, there are a number of factors that can affect the diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease. However, thanks to the latest advances in medical technology and research, diagnosis is now possible in a timely and accurate manner. Because other conditions can mimic the symptoms, diagnosing it can be difficult. Here are some of the conditions that may be mistaken for PD:

Essential tremor: This is the most common condition that is mistaken for PD. Essential shaking is a neurological condition that causes involuntary shaking, most commonly in the hands. Unlike PD, essential tremor typically affects both sides of the body equally and does not cause rigidity or bradykinesia.

Multiple system atrophy (MSA): This is a rare and progressive neurological disorder that can mimic the symptoms of PD. MSA can cause Parkinsonian symptoms such as instability, stiffness, and balance problems, as well as other symptoms such as orthostatic hypotension, urinary problems, and sleep disorders.

Corticobasal degeneration (CBD): This is a rare neurological disorder that can cause Parkinsonian symptoms such as rigidity, tremors, and bradykinesia. CBD can also cause cognitive impairment and problems with coordination and movement.

Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB): This is a type of dementia that shares some of the same symptoms as PD, including tremors, stiffness, and slow movements. DLB also causes hallucinations and changes in alertness and attention.

Progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP): This is a rare and progressive neurological disorder that can cause Parkinsonian symptoms such as stiffness, tremors, and bradykinesia. PSP can also cause problems with eye movements, balance, and coordination.

True Symptoms

When PD progresses over time, it can be extremely challenging to live with. There are some people who are severely disabled by this condition, causing them to have difficulty dressing or writing on a daily basis. Other physical and mental health issues may develop during the course of the disease, so if you notice any of these symptoms, you should seek medical attention immediately.

Tremors: Tremors, or shaking, are often the first symptom of Parkinson’s disease. They usually start in one hand or arm and may occur when the limb is at rest.

Bradykinesia: Bradykinesia refers to slowness of movement. People with Parkinson’s disease may have difficulty initiating movement, completing movements, or experiencing a general lack of movement.

Rigidity: Rigidity refers to stiffness or resistance to movement in the limbs, neck, or trunk.

Postural instability: Postural instability refers to difficulty with balance and coordination, which can make walking or standing difficult and increase the risk of falls.

Speech and swallowing problems: People with Parkinson’s disease may experience difficulty speaking, including slurring of words, a soft voice, or hesitations. They may also have difficulty swallowing, which can lead to choking or aspiration pneumonia.

Micrographia: Micrographia is a symptom of Parkinson’s disease where writing becomes small and cramped.

Loss of smell: Some people with Parkinson’s disease may lose their sense of smell.

Diagnostic Testing

Once the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease have been identified, doctors must confirm the diagnosis through several diagnostic tests. Although this is an anxious and stressful time it is a crucial component to beginning treatment.

The first step in diagnosing Parkinson’s is to look at a patient’s medical history and conduct a physical exam. This helps determine if any signs of the disease are present. Blood tests may be performed to rule out other conditions that can cause similar symptoms.

Doctors also typically order imaging scans such as MRI or CT scans, as well as dopamine transporter imaging (DaT scan) which can detect lower than normal levels of dopamine in part of the brain. These can help identify changes in the brain that occur with Parkinson’s disease. Finally, physicians may order an electromyography (EMG) to assess muscle activity and nerve conduction in patients exhibiting symptoms of the disease.

While there is no single test that can definitively diagnose Parkinson’s disease, there are several tests that can help doctors make a diagnosis. One commonly used test is the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS), which assesses various aspects of Parkinson’s disease such as tremors, rigidity, and bradykinesia (slowness of movement). Other tests include imaging studies such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET), which can help rule out other conditions that may mimic Parkinson’s disease.

In addition to these tests, a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease may also involve a trial of dopaminergic medications, which can improve symptoms in patients with Parkinson’s disease. If symptoms improve with medication, this can provide further evidence for a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease.

It is important to take time in distinguishing between these symptoms and other conditions similar to Parkinson’s Disease in order to provide the best care for a patient. It is critical to understand how each condition progresses differently so that an individualized treatment plan can be developed that takes these nuances into account. Proper diagnosis allows for timely interventions which can improve the quality of life for those affected by neurological diseases.

  • Rest tremor, bradykinesia, rigidity and loss of postural reflexes are generally considered the cardinal signs of Parkinson’s disease. Jankovic, J. (2008). Parkinson’s disease: clinical features and diagnosis. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, 79(4), 368-376. doi: 10.1136/jnnp.2007.131045.
  • Resting tremor, initial asymmetry of symptoms, slow progression, and good response to levodopa are diagnostic of classical Parkinson’s. Jha, M. K. (2013). The diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. Journal of the Association of Physicians of India, 61(6), 372-375. PMID: 24772702.

  • Parkinson's disease is diagnosed clinically based on symptoms and an examination.
  • Brain scans are not typically required for diagnosis, but may be performed in certain cases.
  • Patients must have at least two out of three symptoms of tremor, slowness, or rigidity.
  • Other neurological symptoms must be ruled out and the presentation must not be atypical.
  • Symptoms usually begin on one side and a resting tremor is common.
  • Progression of symptoms and response to medication are assessed.
  • Involuntary movements due to medication may indicate Parkinson's disease.

Progression of Parkinson's Disease

For those who have finally been diagnosed with this life-altering disorder, it can mark the beginning of an incredibly difficult journey to navigate. Yet having a greater understanding of how Parkinson’s Disease progresses from prodromal to diagnosis and stages over time can help those affected to better manage their condition and prepare for the challenges ahead.

The prodromal phase of Parkinson’s Disease refers to the early stage of the disease when symptoms may not yet be present but there are early signs that can indicate the eventual development of Parkinson’s. During this phase, individuals may experience non-motor symptoms such as constipation, loss of sense of smell, anxiety, depression, and sleep disturbances.

It is important to note that not everyone who experiences these symptoms will go on to develop Parkinson’s Disease. However, research has shown that these symptoms can be an early warning sign of the disease, and early detection and intervention can potentially slow or prevent the onset of Parkinson’s.

Currently, there is no definitive test for the prodromal phase of Parkinson’s Disease, and diagnosis is often made based on a combination of medical history, physical examination, and imaging tests. However, several research studies are currently underway to develop more accurate and reliable tests for the prodromal phase of Parkinson’s Disease.

After diagnosis, the progression of Parkinson’s disease is sometimes divided into five stages. These stages are based on the severity of a person’s symptoms and how much the disease has progressed. It is important to note that not all people with Parkinson’s disease will progress through each stage, and the rate of progression can vary widely between individuals.

Stage 1: Mild symptoms

In the early stage of Parkinson’s disease, a person may experience mild symptoms that are barely noticeable. These symptoms may include slight tremors, changes in handwriting, and difficulty with fine motor skills. At this stage, a person is still able to carry out their normal daily activities with little or no difficulty.

Stage 2: Moderate symptoms

As Parkinson’s disease progresses, a person may experience more noticeable symptoms. These symptoms may include tremors, stiffness, and difficulty with balance and coordination. At this stage, a person may have difficulty performing daily activities and may require some assistance.

Stage 3: Significant symptoms

In the middle stage of Parkinson’s disease, a person’s symptoms become more severe. These symptoms may include difficulty walking, slower movements, and increased stiffness. At this stage, a person may require more assistance with daily activities.

Stage 4: Severe symptoms

In the advanced stage of Parkinson’s disease, a person’s symptoms become very severe. These symptoms may include severe tremors, difficulty standing, and severe stiffness. At this stage, a person may be unable to perform daily activities without significant assistance.

Stage 5: End-stage

In the final stage of Parkinson’s disease, a person’s symptoms become very severe, and they may be unable to communicate or perform any movement on their own. At this stage, a person requires constant care and assistance.

  • Symptoms typically begin in the early 60s, and it can take 20-25 years for disease progression.
  • The first 10-15 years of the disease are usually under control, and patients can lead a near-normal life.
  • It is important to stay physically fit with exercise programs to maintain a good quality of life.
  • Medications are available to help with symptoms and need to be adjusted over time.
  • Once diagnosed, it is important to accept the diagnosis and work towards a better quality of life.
  • It is crucial to get a specialized neurologist's second opinion to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment of Parkinsonism

Now that we have a full understanding of the diagnosis and prognosis of Parkinson’s disease, it is time to discuss the available therapies.

The first line of defense in treating Parkinson’s is medications. A wide variety of drugs exist to help manage symptoms such as tremor, stiffness, slowness of movement, and balance issues. However, these may come with side effects such as nausea, dizziness, sleep disturbances, or even hallucinations. It is important to monitor how your body responds to the medication and adjust accordingly.

In addition to medication, physical therapy can also be beneficial in managing Parkinson’s Disease. Exercise and physical therapy can help improve strength, flexibility, balance, and coordination, which can help reduce the risk of falls and improve overall mobility.

Another treatment option for Parkinson’s Disease is deep brain stimulation (DBS). DBS involves implanting electrodes in the brain that can help regulate abnormal brain activity and reduce symptoms such as tremors and stiffness. While DBS is generally considered safe and effective, it is typically only used in cases where medication and other treatments have been ineffective.

It’s also important to note that managing Parkinson’s Disease often requires a multidisciplinary approach. In addition to medication, physical therapy, and DBS, other treatments such as occupational therapy, speech therapy, and support groups can also be beneficial in managing symptoms and improving quality of life.

Above all, together with health care providers can make living with this condition easier and more comfortable. By doing so, individuals can still experience a good quality of life despite the challenges posed by Parkinson’s disease.

  • The prodromal phase of Parkinson's presents many years before tremors occur and is associated with symptoms such as REM sleep behavioral disorder, problems with smell, and constipation.
  • Targeting the disease process as early as possible is crucial for slowing down or stopping Parkinson's progression.
  • Stratifying Parkinson's patients based on their subtypes could lead to more effective disease-modifying therapies.
  • Parkinson's disease is more complicated than previously thought, with patients presenting in different ways, such as having more tremors or more problems with thinking.
  • Studying patients with cognitive problems could provide a better way of assessing the effectiveness of new therapies.
  • Current therapies largely focus on improving motor control, which can be responsive to drugs but may not slow down the disease process.
  • Stratifying patients based on subtypes is not a new concept, as it has been successfully used in other conditions like cancer.

Medication and Parkinson's Disease

There are several medications available to help manage the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. The choice of medication will depend on the specific symptoms a person is experiencing, the stage of their disease, and other medical conditions they may have. It is important to work closely with a healthcare provider to determine the best treatment plan for an individual’s needs.

The most commonly prescribed medications are dopamine agonists, which mimic dopamine in the brain and help improve movement. These drugs include pramipexole, ropinirole, and rotigotine. Other drugs that may be prescribed include monoamine oxidase type B inhibitors, catechol-O-methyltransferase inhibitors, and amantadine. Levodopa is also an effective treatment option for Parkinson’s disease that helps reduce tremors, stiffness, and other motor symptoms. It works by converting into dopamine in the brain and allowing normal movement to occur again.

Levodopa: Levodopa is the most effective medication for managing the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. It works by increasing the levels of dopamine in the brain. Levodopa is usually prescribed in combination with carbidopa, which helps prevent the breakdown of levodopa in the bloodstream before it reaches the brain. This combination medication is known as Sinemet. Levodopa is generally well-tolerated, but long-term use can lead to side effects such as dyskinesias (abnormal involuntary movements).

Dopamine agonists: Dopamine agonists are medications that mimic the effects of dopamine in the brain. They are often used as an alternative to levodopa or in combination with levodopa to help manage symptoms. Dopamine agonists can be associated with side effects such as hallucinations, confusion, and compulsive behavior.

MAO-B inhibitors: MAO-B inhibitors are medications that work by blocking the enzyme monoamine oxidase-B, which breaks down dopamine in the brain. This helps increase dopamine levels and improve symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. MAO-B inhibitors can be associated with side effects such as nausea, vomiting, and insomnia.

COMT inhibitors: COMT inhibitors are medications that work by blocking the enzyme catechol-O-methyltransferase, which breaks down levodopa in the bloodstream. This helps increase the levels of levodopa in the brain and improve symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. COMT inhibitors can be associated with side effects such as diarrhea, nausea, and confusion.

Anticholinergics: Anticholinergics are medications that work by blocking the action of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter in the brain. They can help improve tremors and rigidity in Parkinson’s disease, but they are generally not as effective as levodopa or dopamine agonists. Anticholinergics can be associated with side effects such as dry mouth, blurred vision, and confusion.

Amantadine: Amantadine is a medication that is sometimes used to help manage the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. It works by increasing the levels of dopamine in the brain and blocking the action of a different neurotransmitter called glutamate. Amantadine can be associated with side effects such as confusion, hallucinations, and swelling of the ankles.

These medications can provide relief from some of the common symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease such as tremor, slowness of movement, rigidity, postural instability, and bradykinesia. While each person responds differently to these drugs depending on their individual condition, it’s important to work closely with your doctor to determine the best treatment plan for you.

Medication can be seen as a double-edged sword since it offers both symptom relief and potential risks. Common side effects of medications used for Parkinson’s include dry mouth, constipation, nausea, drowsiness, confusion, hallucinations, and compulsive behaviors such as gambling or shopping. Less common side effects are weight gain or loss, skin rash or itching, and inflammation in different parts of the body.

  • The pharmacological therapy for Parkinson’s disease is aimed at replenishing dopamine levels, mimicking dopamine’s action, or antagonizing the excitatory effects of cholinergic neurons.
  • Levodopa is one of the most commonly used drugs for Parkinson's disease.
  • Levodopa must be administered with Carbidopa to prevent peripheral metabolism.
  • Dopamine is synthesized in a two-step process starting with the amino acid tyrosine.
  • Dopamine is loaded into synaptic vesicles and released by physiological stimuli into the extracellular space where it can bind to dopamine receptors.
  • Excess dopamine in the synapse is reuptaken back into the neuron, or into glial cells where it gets metabolized by Monoamine Oxidase (MAO) and Catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT).

Cognitive Changes in Parkinson's Disease

A number of cognitive changes can occur as a result of PD, including memory loss, difficulty paying attention, processing speed problems, and difficulties with executive function. As the disease progresses, these changes can become more pronounced.

Short-term memory problems are one of the most common cognitive changes in PD. People with PD might have trouble recalling events that recently occurred or information they just heard. Having difficulty concentrating or being easily distracted is also a common symptom of attention problems.

The processing speed (speed at which information is processed) can also be affected by PD, so people with the condition may take longer to complete tasks that they could do earlier. A person’s executive function refers to their ability to plan, organize, prioritize, and complete tasks. The inability to perform these skills can negatively impact the ability of people with PD to function on a daily basis.

A person’s ability to live independently may be affected by cognitive changes associated with PD. It is possible for cognitive changes to be more disabling than motor symptoms in some cases. The extent of cognitive changes experienced by people with PD can vary greatly from person to person, and not everyone with PD will experience these changes. Aside from age and education, cognitive changes can also be affected by health conditions and other factors.

Exercise and Parkinson's Disease

Exercise is an important aspect of managing Parkinson’s disease (PD) symptoms. PD is a neurological disorder that affects movement, and exercise has been shown to help improve balance, flexibility, strength, and overall mobility in people with the disease.

Several types of exercise can be beneficial for people with PD, including aerobic exercise, strength training, and balance and coordination exercises. Aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking or cycling, can help improve cardiovascular health and overall fitness, as well as reduce depression and anxiety.

Strength training, which involves using weights or resistance bands, can help improve muscle strength and reduce muscle rigidity, a common symptom of PD. Balance and coordination exercises, such as yoga or Tai Chi, can help improve balance and reduce the risk of falls.

Studies have shown that exercise can also help improve cognitive function in people with PD, particularly in the areas of attention and processing speed. Exercise has also been shown to improve quality of life and reduce the risk of depression and anxiety in people with PD.

It is important for people with PD to work with their healthcare team to develop an exercise program that is safe and appropriate for their individual needs and abilities. In some cases, physical therapy or occupational therapy may be recommended to help tailor an exercise program to an individual’s specific needs.

While exercise can be beneficial for people with PD, it is important to start slowly and gradually increase the intensity and duration of exercise over time. It is also important to listen to your body and rest as needed, and to make sure you are using proper form and technique during exercise to avoid injury.

  • Exercise is free and readily available, and it is beneficial for everyone, including people with Parkinson's disease.
  • Animal studies suggest that exercise may be neuroprotective and increase dopamine availability in the brain.
  • There is no definitive evidence that exercise slows down the progression of Parkinson's disease, but it has been shown to improve motor symptoms and quality of life.
  • The type, intensity, and frequency of exercise may vary for each person with Parkinson's disease, and a personalized exercise plan is recommended.
  • Mobile health technology can be used to help people with Parkinson's disease engage
  • Tai Chi, Pilates, and dancing are recommended to help with balance and agility.
  • Exercising in groups can provide social interaction and fun.
  • Walking alone is not enough to challenge the balance system.
  • Exercise helps prevent falls and lessen the consequences of Parkinson's disease

Nutrition and Parkinson's Disease

Nutrition plays another significant role in the management of Parkinson’s disease (PD). PD is a neurological disorder that affects movement, and certain nutritional factors can impact both the progression of the disease and the management of symptoms.

One key nutritional factor for people with PD is the intake of antioxidants. Antioxidants are substances that protect cells from damage caused by free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can damage cells and contribute to the development of chronic diseases. People with PD may have lower levels of antioxidants in their brains, making them more vulnerable to oxidative stress and damage.

Antioxidants can be found in a variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains. Some examples of antioxidant-rich foods include berries, leafy greens, sweet potatoes, and nuts. It is important for people with PD to include a variety of these foods in their diet to ensure adequate intake of antioxidants.

Another important nutritional factor for people with PD is protein intake. PD medications, particularly levodopa, rely on absorption of amino acids from protein to work effectively. However, excessive protein intake can interfere with the absorption of these medications, leading to fluctuations in symptom control. Therefore, people with PD may need to adjust their protein intake to optimize medication effectiveness.

A common symptom of PD is constipation, so it is important to drink adequate amounts of water and eat enough fiber to improve digestion. Drinking plenty of water and eating fiber-rich foods like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables is important for those with Parkinson’s disease.

It has been suggested that PD patients may benefit from a Mediterranean-style diet, which contains fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats. Studies have shown that this type of diet reduces the risk of chronic diseases and improves brain function.

Ultimately, nutrition has a significant impact on the management of Parkinson’s disease symptoms and disease progression. It is important to consider antioxidants, protein intake, hydration, and fiber intake when planning a diet for people with Parkinson’s disease. In order to develop a personalized nutrition plan for people with PD, they should work with their healthcare team and a registered dietitian.

  • Plant-based diets may reduce the risk of Parkinson's disease and manage symptoms.
  • A diet low in animal fat and high in whole grains and strawberries may be effective in reducing Parkinson's disease symptoms.
  • Coffee consumption has a protective effect against Parkinson's disease and may slow its progression.
  • A six-week study showed significant improvement in Parkinson's symptoms with caffeine intake, but the effects tend to diminish over time with repeated use.
  • Overconsumption of soursop, a fruit known as graviola, may cause an atypical form of Parkinson's disease.
  • High dietary intake of animal fat, iron, mercury, and dairy products may increase the risk of Parkinson's disease.
  • Further research is needed to study the anti-Parkinson's activity of other edible plants.

Depression and Anxiety Issues Associated With Parkinson's Disease

Depression and anxiety are common issues associated with Parkinson’s disease (PD). PD is a neurological disorder that affects movement, but it can also impact mood and mental health. Symptoms of depression may include feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyed. It is important for people with PD to seek treatment for depression, as it can impact quality of life and may even worsen other PD symptoms.

Anxiety is another common issue associated with PD. People with PD may experience anxiety related to their disease, such as worrying about future mobility or the progression of symptoms. They may also experience anxiety unrelated to PD, such as general anxiety or panic attacks. Treatment for anxiety may include therapy, medication, or a combination of both.

In addition to seeking treatment for depression and anxiety, there are several lifestyle factors that can help manage these symptoms in people with PD. Regular exercise, social support, and stress reduction techniques such as meditation or deep breathing can all help improve mood and reduce anxiety.

It is important for people with PD to work with their healthcare team to develop a comprehensive treatment plan that addresses both motor and non-motor symptoms of the disease. This may include medication for depression or anxiety, therapy, or lifestyle interventions.

In summary, depression and anxiety are common issues associated with Parkinson’s disease, and it is important for people with PD to seek treatment for these symptoms. Lifestyle factors such as exercise, social support, and stress reduction techniques can also help improve mood and reduce anxiety. A comprehensive treatment plan that addresses both motor and non-motor symptoms of PD is essential for optimal management of the disease.

  • Parkinson's disease affects individuals globally with non-motor symptoms, including mood disorders such as depression and anxiety.
  • Dr. Gregory Pontone, an associate professor in psychiatry and neurology, explains that depression occurs in about 25% of people with Parkinson's disease, and anxiety occurs in about 50%.
  • These rates are higher than in the general population and other neurological diseases.
  • Medications can be used to treat depression and anxiety in Parkinson's disease, but non-pharmacological treatments such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and exercise can also be effective.
  • Care partners can help individuals with Parkinson's disease manage depression and anxiety by providing emotional support and encouraging them to seek treatment.
  • Apathy, a common symptom of Parkinson's disease, can also impact quality of life and should be addressed in treatment.
  • Recognizing and managing depression, anxiety, and apathy can improve the overall quality of life for individuals with Parkinson's disease.

Sleep and Parkinson's Disease

During the course of Parkinson’s Disease, people may experience sleep disturbances, including difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, vivid dreams, and even sleepwalking. These issues may be related to changes in the brain chemistry of people with Parkinson’s Disease, including alterations in the levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays a key role in regulating sleep.

Research has also shown that people with Parkinson’s Disease who have sleep problems and disturbances may experience more severe motor symptoms, including tremors and difficulty with movement. Additionally, these sleep disturbances may lead to cognitive decline and a reduced quality of life for people with Parkinson’s Disease.

However, there are strategies that can help people with Parkinson’s Disease manage their sleep disturbances. These may include practicing good sleep hygiene, such as sticking to a regular sleep schedule and creating a relaxing bedtime routine. Medications may also be prescribed to help improve sleep.

Overall, while Parkinson’s Disease can have a significant impact on sleep, there are steps that people with the disease can take to manage their sleep disturbances and improve their quality of life. These include but are not limited to finding sleep therapy solutions that may include a certified home hospital bed or other bedroom mobility aid.

Coping With Parkinson's Disease

Coping with this disease can be the hardest challenge of all. Because of its impact on the individual’s entire close community it is even more crucial to have a support system in place to help manage the physical, emotional and mental challenges that come along with the condition. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution for managing Parkinson’s Disease, there are some helpful tips and strategies that can make living with this disease more manageable.

For those who have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease or are caring for someone who has been diagnosed, you may feel overwhelmed by the changes this diagnosis brings. It can be hard to adjust to the new reality of living with a chronic illness, but it is important to remember that you are not alone in this journey.

Living a healthy life with Parkinson’s Disease isn’t easy, yet it can be done. The trick is to focus on the small victories and savor the moments of accomplishment. It’s ironic that such an unpredictable and progressive illness can often lead to a healthier lifestyle.

In order to live well with Parkinson’s Disease, it is important for individuals to stay positive, maintain active relationships with family and friends, seek out support from others who are living with the condition, as well as access medical care when needed. Taking these steps will help people living with Parkinson’s Disease remain as independent as possible and live an active life despite their diagnosis.

The road ahead may seem daunting, but by taking things one step at a time we can make progress. Everyone’s journey with PD is unique, so don’t compare yourself to others; take pride in your individual accomplishments. With the right tools and support system in place, our lives do not have to be defined by this disease – rather than letting it take away from us, let’s use it as an opportunity for growth and appreciation for all that we are able to do. We can use rhetoric here by noting how remarkable each of us is for overcoming such obstacles – let’s never forget our strength!

  • Stay calm and speak with your doctor about the disease progression.
  • Don't isolate yourself; stay connected with friends and family.
  • Seek therapy with a mental health professional to discuss your experiences.
  • Join a support group to connect with others who understand what you're going through.
  • Remember that you are in control of your attitude and treatment.
  • Focus on what you can do and enjoy in the present moment.

Caregiver Support and Medical Information Resources for Parkinson's Disease

Parkinson’s patients may need assistance from caregivers as the disease progresses, making daily activities increasingly difficult. A caregiver’s role is crucial in supporting an individual with Parkinson’s disease, so resources and support are essential for them to navigate the challenges they may encounter.

There are several ways that caregivers can support individuals with Parkinson’s disease. One important aspect is providing physical assistance with daily activities, such as dressing, bathing, and grooming. Caregivers may also need to help with medication management, as individuals with Parkinson’s disease often require multiple medications to manage their symptoms.

In addition to physical support, caregivers can also provide emotional support. Individuals with Parkinson’s disease may experience anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges, and caregivers can help by listening, providing comfort, and helping them access appropriate resources.

Caregivers can also support individuals with Parkinson’s disease by advocating for their needs and helping them navigate the healthcare system. This may include scheduling appointments, communicating with healthcare providers, and helping to coordinate care.

In addition to taking care of their patients, caregivers should also take care of themselves. A caregiver’s role can be demanding and stressful, so self-care activities such as exercise, healthy eating, and seeking support from family and friends are important.

There are many resources available to support caregivers of individuals with Parkinson’s disease. These may include support groups, educational materials, and respite care programs that provide temporary relief for caregivers. It is important for caregivers to take advantage of these resources to help them manage the demands of caregiving and maintain their own well-being.

  • Caregivers should seek support early and connect with knowledgeable medical providers who specialize in treating Parkinson's disease.
  • Resources like support groups and individual counseling can help caregivers and newly diagnosed individuals cope with the emotional and practical challenges of Parkinson's disease.
  • Caregivers should prioritize taking care of themselves and updating their medical, legal, and estate plan preferences as needed.

Mobility Aids for Parkinson's Disease

Movement problems caused by Parkinson’s Disease include difficulties walking, balance problems, and stiffness of the muscles. Mobility aid use is regarded as increasing independence by people with Parkinson’s disease and their caregivers, according to recent studies.

A hospital bed is perhaps the most important mobility aid for people with Parkinson’s Disease. People with Parkinson’s Disease can find a comfortable position for sleeping, resting, or performing activities on hospital beds that can be adjusted to meet their specific needs.

One of the key features of hospital beds is their ability to raise and lower the head and foot of the bed. As a result, people with Parkinson’s Disease can find a comfortable position for sleeping, alleviating symptoms like stiffness and pain. Moreover, certified fully electric hospital beds can be adjusted to make getting in and out easier, which can be especially helpful to people with Parkinson’s Disease.

Pressure-relieving mattresses are another important feature of hospital beds. People with Parkinson’s Disease may be at risk for developing pressure ulcers or bedsores if they sleep on these mattresses since they reduce the amount of pressure on the body. It is possible to reduce the risk of skin breakdown and improve comfort by purchasing a certified bed and mattress.

In general, hospital beds can assist in improving comfort, reducing the risk of pressure ulcers, and making getting in and out of bed easier for people with Parkinson’s Disease. Your healthcare provider may recommend a hospital bed if you or someone you care for has Parkinson’s Disease and has mobility issues.

Besides a hospital bed, another popular mobility aid for people with Parkinson’s Disease is a walker / rollator. A walker provides support and stability, which can help individuals with Parkinson’s Disease maintain their balance and reduce the risk of falls. Walkers can also be helpful for individuals who experience freezing of gait, a common symptom of Parkinson’s Disease where the individual may suddenly feel “stuck” and unable to move forward.

A cane is also an important mobility aid for individuals with Parkinson’s Disease. For individuals who do not need a walker but need help maintaining balance, a cane can provide additional support and stability. People with tremors or difficulty initiating movement may also find canes helpful, since the cane can provide them with a target to focus on.

Parkinson’s patients may benefit from other mobility aids besides walkers and canes. Among them are wheelchairs and scooters, which provide mobility to individuals who have difficulty walking longer distances, and orthotics, such as braces and splints, which improve gait and prevent falls.

There’s a whole world of mobility aids that can be usefully incorporated into daily activities with the help and guidance of a physical therapist or occupational therapist. And at the end of the day, it is possible for people suffering from Parkinson’s Disease to maintain their independence and improve their quality of life by using the right mobility aids.

From Our Experience...
"Having visited memory care wings of acute care and nursing facilities all over North America I have seen the impact of Parkinson's Disease on people of all walks of life and their families. I saw how it can be a take a terrible toll on people and is only mitigated by a strong will and working closely with caregivers and doctors."

  • Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder that affects movement and coordination. It is caused by a lack of dopamine in the brain, which is a neurotransmitter that helps control movement.
  • Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease can include tremors, stiffness, slow movement, and difficulty with balance and coordination.
  • The exact cause of Parkinson’s disease is not known, but it is believed to involve a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
  • There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, but there are treatments available to manage symptoms and improve quality of life. These can include medication, physical therapy, and surgery in some cases.
  • Parkinson’s disease is more common in older adults, and the risk increases with age. Men are also slightly more likely than women to develop the disease.
  • It is important to seek medical attention if you are experiencing symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, as early diagnosis and treatment can help slow the progression of the disease and improve outcomes.

Frequently Asked Questions About Parkinson's Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement. It develops gradually, and symptoms include tremors, stiffness, slow movement, and difficulty with balance and coordination.

The exact cause of Parkinson’s disease is unknown, but it’s believed to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

Parkinson’s disease most commonly affects people over the age of 60, but it can also affect younger people. It affects men more often than women, and there may be a genetic component that increases the risk of developing the disease.

Early symptoms of Parkinson’s disease may include tremors in the hands, arms, or legs; stiffness in the limbs or trunk; slow movement; and difficulty with balance and coordination.

There is currently no cure for Parkinson’s disease, but there are treatments that can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life. These may include medications, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes.

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder, meaning that symptoms worsen over time. However, the rate of progression can vary widely from person to person.

Start Your Home Healthcare Products Inventory With SonderCare

Are you recently discharged from hospital, experiencing mobility issues, or in need of palliative or senior care? Enjoy a smoother recovery and get the luxury you deserve by choosing our home hospital products. Contact us today to discuss home hospital beds, mattresses, stand assist chairs and other accessories to make your home hospice perfect for a truly comfortable experience.

Explore Other Home Healthcare Articles
Read the latest SonderCare
Home Health Care Articles

Are you looking for the most recent articles on home healthcare supplies? Browse our latest resources below and let us know if you have any questions. We’re here to support you as you embark on your road to home medical care. 

Seeking The Best Care For Your Loved One?

Browse North America's Luxury
Home Healthcare Products

Shopping cart0
There are no products in the cart!
Continue shopping