Seniors with Parkinson’s often exhibit dozens of unusual symptoms. However, many of these symptoms seemingly have nothing to do with the muscle tremors generally associated with this disease. Watching for some of the lesser-known symptoms can help seniors and their caregivers catch this disease early and delay some of the debilitating symptoms. Here are 8 early warning signs of Parkinson’s disease that seniors and their caregivers should never ignore.
1. Small Handwriting
It is perfectly natural for a senior’s handwriting to change with age because of impaired dexterity or vision. Caregivers and family members should be concerned if their loved one’s handwriting changes suddenly with no other explanation. Seniors who have Parkinson’s might also find it challenging to space their words out evenly or write letters that are the same size.
2. Loss of Smell
Any changes to a senior’s senses should not be taken lightly, including the sense of smell. Doctors are unsure of why seniors with Parkinson’s find it difficult to smell certain odors, but they believe it is one of the most common early warning signs of this disease. Many seniors with Parkinson’s have difficulty differentiating distinct odors such as licorice, bananas, and pickles.
If your senior loved one has noticed any sudden changes in his or her sleep schedule, consider heading to a sleep institute for further testing. Seniors with Parkinson’s often report disorders such as insomnia, restless leg syndrome, sudden movements while sleeping, and the inability to stay asleep for more than a few minutes. Even if these issues are not caused by Parkinson’s, they can be the result of another serious medical problem and should be investigated by a doctor.
Maintaining a high quality of life can be challenging for some seniors, but professional caregivers can help them obtain this goal. Families can trust in Flower Mound, TX, elder care experts to help their elderly loved ones focus on lifestyle choices that increase the chances of living a longer and healthier life.
As Parkinson’s progresses, many seniors develop gastrointestinal issues such as constipation. Seniors who are experiencing constipation should initially try to treat the condition by increasing the amount of water and fiber they consume every day. If this does not relieve the constipation, schedule an appointment for your loved one with a doctor for further testing.
5. A Soft Voice
Vocal cords naturally become weaker with age, and changes to the voice usually occur gradually over the course of many years. Caregivers and others who are close to a senior with Parkinson’s might notice unusual changes in his or her voice within the span of a few weeks. While a cold or flu can also alter a senior’s voice, he or she should typically go back to sounding the same after recovering.
6. Apathy and Depression
One of the biggest risk factors for Parkinson’s is a lack of dopamine in the brain, which is also connected to depression. Dopamine is a natural chemical produced by the human body that provides energy and motivation. However, sadness and apathy do not necessarily indicate Parkinson’s because these feelings can also be triggered by major events in a senior’s life such as a surgical procedure.
7. Cognitive Decline
Caregivers should never ignore rapid cognitive decline in a senior. Your loved one may begin to misplace items and forget names as the years go by, but it isn’t normal for these issues to develop overnight. A local neurologist can help determine if a senior’s cognitive decline is natural or the symptom of a bigger problem.
When seniors develop Parkinson’s disease, their families are not always able to provide they care they need and deserve. Flower Mound, TX, Parkinson’s home care experts are available around the clock to help seniors maintain a high quality of life while managing the symptoms of Parkinson’s, allowing families to enjoy greater peace of mind.
8. Rigid Facial Expression
Also referred to as “masking,” seniors can develop a rigid expression if they lose control over their facial muscles. In the earliest stages of Parkinson’s, it may seem as if the senior is unhappy or stoic even when trying to smile. This unique symptom can also be triggered by other serious health conditions such as pinched nerves and strokes.
Families are not always able to provide the care their loved ones require. If your senior loved one needs hourly or live-in care, Flower Mound Home Care Assistance can help. Our caregivers can assist with exercise and mobility, prepare nutritious meals, provide timely medication reminders, and help with a wide array of other important daily tasks. Call 972-468-6010 to speak with a Care Manager and learn about our flexible care plans.