It starts with a tremor, a sudden freeze of muscle; symptoms so slight that you will normally overlook. By the age of 50, it is estimated that 3 out of 1000 seniors in Singapore will have Parkinson’s disease.
What is Parkinson’s?
Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative disease which affects the dopamine-producing neurons in the substantia nigra area of our brain. The progression of Parkinson’s and its symptoms generally takes place slowly over the years and is never quite the same between different persons.
Seniors with Parkinson’s may experience
- Limb Stiffness
- Slowness in movement
- Worsened gait and balance
The 5 Stages
There are generally five stages of the disease and the help people with Parkinson’s will need depends on which stage the disease is at.
Your loved one may experience tremors on one side of the body but are still mobile and independent in their daily living needs.
Tremors may start to be present on both sides of the body and a frequent loss in balance is observed. Your loved one may experience problems walking and suffer from falls. It is thus important to be vigilant to prevent falls. Supervise your loved ones when they are moving about and eating becomes more difficult.
Falls become more common as they lose balance all the time. Your loved one will need help getting around the home through mobility devices and human support, and supervision for daily activities like showering and eating.
Stages 4 and 5
Independent living can become a challenge for your loved one. As their bodies deteriorate due to Parkinson’s, they need help to move, for daily activities and eating. When the disease progresses to stage 5, they will be unable to stand or walk, eat and swallow. They are completely dependent on their caregiver.