While the exact cause for Parkinson’s disease is unknown, many researchers attribute it to both genetic and environmental factors. Parkinson’s disease is characterized by the progressive loss of motor function, when dopamine-producing brain cells start to die out. The primary symptoms of this neurodegenerative disorder include tremors, stiffness, impaired balance and a shuffling gait (Parkinsonian gait).
Most individuals are diagnosed with the condition when they are over 60 years old. But cases of early on-set of Parkinson’s disease, although infrequent, are also known to occur. While the disease primarily develops in the elderly segment of our population, the rising life expectancy has resulted in many more people being diagnosed with the condition.
Managing care decisions with Parkinson’s disease
Because it is a progressive disease, the symptoms that affect patients will change and intensify over time. This presents a wide variety of challenges for both the patient and the caregiver. Each patient is unique in dealing with the condition and there is no surefire strategy that fits every scenario. This makes it all the more important to make care decisions as early as possible to ensure that the affected person is able to maximize their cognitive functioning at the beginning of the disease.
Issues that you will need to consider before making the right care decisions
Awareness is the first stage of providing care for patients. The patient’s views and feelings about life support, hospice care and artificial care should be taken into account before designing a strategy for them. This is the perfect time to take care of any legal considerations such as the power of attorney, health directives and wills so that the person’s estate and property are taken care of.
The patient’s views on their final arrangements should be evaluated before they approach the end of their life. All of these views can be extremely challenging for both patient and their caregivers to go through as a family. For this reason it is recommended to sit down with a doctor and a therapist to have these important conversations.
If the person is not able to come to terms with their condition, it is all the more important for them to have sessions early on with a therapist. This can give both the caregiver and the person more confidence when the next stage in their life approaches.
Diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease
The treatment of Parkinson’s will typically take place once the disease has progressed to an advanced enough stage in which both motor and neurophysiological functions have been critically damaged. Researchers recommend an early-treatment strategy to diminish as many symptoms to slow the disease and cut down on costs associated with PD treatment.
The fundamental goal with patients suffering from PD is to slow its progression. Defining that goal is easier said than done however since the issue is a multifaceted, for one, it is impossible to measure success in the slowing of PD progression and two, researchers are still clueless on what parameters define slow progression.
The most popular method of measuring PD progression is the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) which only outlines symptoms and motor symptoms without any focus on neuroimaging.