Parkinson’s Disease & Long Term Care
Parkinson’s disease (PD) affects 10 million people worldwide, including nearly one million Americans. As part of Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month, we’ve compiled a list of questions to help you and your loved one get answers about PD, find resources, and plan for the future.
What is PD?
According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, PD is “a neurodegenerative, progressive disorder that affects predominantly dopamine producing neurons in a specific area of the brain called substantia nigra.”
PD is the second most common neurodegenerative condition after Alzheimer’s, and symptoms typically develop slowly over years.
- Tremors in hands, arms, legs, jaw or head;
- Stiffness of the limbs and trunk;
- Slowness of movement;
- Impaired balance and coordination.
What causes PD?
Scientists still do not know what causes Parkinson’s disease. According to the National Institute on Aging, many researchers believe that PD results from both genetic factors and environmental factors, with few cases traced to specific genetic mutations.
What are some early signs of PD?
No two PD patients have the same symptoms, which can make diagnosis difficult. Here are some resources to help you identify early signs of PD:
- The Parkinson’s Foundation: 10 Early Signs of Parkinson’s Disease
- American Parkinson Disease Association: Common Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease
- Johns Hopkins: Q&A About Early Warning Signs
What is the prognosis for PD?
There is no cure for PD, but medications, exercise, and proper treatment can help control symptoms. Read about the stages of Parkinson’s here.
What is the role of long term care in treating Parkinson’s disease?
The symptoms of PD can sometimes progress beyond what can be managed at home. Depending on each individual’s needs, long term care facilities can play a role in helping you or your loved one navigate PD.
Skilled nursing facilities offer speech, occupational and physical therapies to help residents with PD work through motor and speech challenges. For residents who need help with daily living (i.e. laundry, dressing, cooking, cleaning), assisted living communities provide additional help, as well as increased access to social activities and monitored exercise. For residents with more pronounced symptoms, like hallucinations or dementia, a nursing home can provide round-the-clock care.