How is Parkinson’s Disease Diagnosed?

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When an aging parent or loved one is struggling with activities of daily living, the causes can be linked to numerous age-related conditions. However, if you notice that an aging loved one is experiencing out of the ordinary symptoms such as excessive shaking or rigid movements, or is complaining of stiffness and additional pain, a more serious condition may be the cause.

Parkinson’s Disease, commonly referred to as PD, is a disorder that affects the movement of the body. While symptoms associated with PD often come on gradually, for some individuals, they can occur almost overnight. If your aging parent or loved one is experiencing unusual problems in regards to activities of daily living, it is important to schedule an appointment with their doctor or physician. While diagnosing PD is not as simple as running a few tests, speaking with a professional can provide the senior and their family with answers and options for how to best move forward with professional Parkinson’s care.

When meeting with your loved one’s physician, they will ask for a list of symptoms or changes in physical abilities or in mood and behavior. The signs and symptoms that the senior and their loved ones report will play a role in determining the final diagnosis. Common questions asked by senior care professionals include when problems with mobility or movement started, and the severity of the pain or discomfort on a 1-10 scale. During this time, a history and physical will most likely be performed.

The next step will likely include imaging tests. Because PD is a disorder of the brain, imaging tests are often routinely performed to help aid in diagnosis. Taking pictures of the area of the brain involved in movement may indicate that PD is indeed the cause. These tests may include but are not limited to x-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and similar types of non-invasive scans which are safe, and can be completed in a matter of minutes.

When concerned about the health of an aging parent or loved one, it is important to keep in mind that there are a handful of conditions that may closely mimic PD in the elderly. Sometimes, medications can cause similar symptoms as a side effect. To rule out other conditions, a physician may prescribe a medication that is used to treat PD to see if there is an improvement in the senior’s symptoms. If an improvement occurs, the chances of a PD diagnosis are more likely.

If your aging parent, grandparent or loved one has been diagnosed with PD and you are unsure of how to best deliver care, contact Home Care Assistance. We are a leader in Parkinson’s care and offer flexible part-time and 24 hour care in Denton and Collin Counties. For more information, dial 972-468-6010 today and speak with a devoted Care Manager. Our phone line are open 24 hours a day – we look forward to speaking with you!