Understanding Parkinson’s Disease

two people smiling

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s Disease is a gradual disorder of the nervous system that affects movement.

It starts when certain brain nerve cells gradually break down or die. Because it is gradual, it starts with a barely noticeable tremor in just one hand and then progresses from there.

Parkinson’s Disease also causes stiffness and slowing of movement.

There’s no cure at the moment, but medications and other therapies can improve the symptoms and in some cases brain surgery is prescribed to improve the symptoms.


In the United States it’s estimated that anywhere from 600,000 to 1 million people, or more are living with Parkinson’s and at least 60,000 are diagnosed each year.

This makes Parkinson’s Disease one of the most common brain diseases, second only to Alzheimer’s disease.


Because Parkinson’s disease is a gradual disease that affects the nervous system, the early symptoms are mild and usually go unnoticed.

Some of the symptoms include:

Tremors: This is the most common symptom of Parkinson’s Disease. This begins at one of the fingers or a thumb and then progresses to the rest of the body.

Slow movement: This progresses over time, and shuffling gait is a characteristic noticed with people having Parkinson’s Disease.

Rigid muscles: This occurs in any part of the body and reduces range of motion, and increases the pain.

Slur or hesitant speech: The patient starts to speak with a monotone and may hesitate before they talk, or they might even have their slur when speaking, and over time they will lose the usual speech inflections.

Difficulty in writing: Their handwriting will become gradually smaller and the patient will have a lot of difficulty in writing.

Also, there will be a gradual decrease in automatic body movements, like arms swinging when walking, smiling etc.

Risk Factors:

Age is a known Parkinson’s Disease risk factor. The average age of diagnosis is 60 years old. As the population gets older, more people are diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease

Although most people tend to think of Parkinson’s as an older person’s disease but some get Parkinson’s disease earlier in their life. Michael J Fox, the famous actor, and Parkinson’s Disease advocate, was diagnosed at the age of 29.

Exposure to harmful toxins is a known risk factor. Farm workers who have had an ongoing exposure to pesticides are at an increased risk of getting Parkinson’s disease.

Family history: Having someone in your family with Parkinson’s disease increases your chance of getting the disease, however the chances are still small.

More males tend to get the disease than women.


Because at the moment there’s no cure for Parkinson’s Disease, managing the symptoms and helping the patient have a great life is very important.

Some of the common Parkinson’s Disease symptoms include:

  • Difficulty Swallowing
  • Thinking difficulties
  • Sleep disorders
  • Bladder and incontinence issues
  • Constipation
  • Smell dysfunction
  • Blood pressure changes
  • Fatigue
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Pain

Here at Progressive Home Health & Hospice we work very closely with your doctor and other healthcare professionals to individualize your plan of care and and manage your symptoms, so that you can sustain a high quality of living even after being diagnosed with Parkinsons Disease. If you, or a family member have been diagnosed with this disease, give Progressive a call today, in Kansas 316-691-5050 and in Nebraska 402-933-5836.

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