I may be 6 days late in advising that this month is dedicated to Parkinson’s Awareness. But…better late than never.
I have plans for this month, to try to bring awareness of this disease to my Community, and anyone and everyone that will listen.
I am a Caregiver to my Momma who is in Stage 5 Parkinson’s, I have watched the progression of this disease for about 10 years now. At times, we were never sure what “Stage” Momma was in, We are very clear now, though what stage she is in.
The funniest thing about this disease, is it, does not affect every person the same. There is no manuscript or instruction manual on how to proceed. Most times, we fly by the seat of our pants, especially at this stage.
I have talked with many different people about the disease. Most people, who have never dealt with it, and are under the “assumption” that is just “tremors” of the body. It is so much more than that. Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disorder with no known cure.
Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder and the most common movement disorder. It is characterized by progressive loss of muscle control, which leads to trembling of the limbs and head while at rest, stiffness, slowness, and impaired balance. As symptoms worsen, it may become difficult to walk, talk, and complete simple tasks.
The progression of Parkinson’s disease and the degree of impairment vary from individual to individual. Many people with Parkinson’s disease live long productive lives, whereas others become disabled much more quickly. Premature death is usually due to complications such as falling-related injuries or pneumonia.
In the United States, about 1 million people are affected by Parkinson’s disease and worldwide about 5 million. Most individuals who develop Parkinson’s disease are 60 years of age or older. Parkinson’s disease occurs in approximately 1% of individuals aged 60 years and in about 4% of those aged 80 years. Since overall life expectancy is rising, the number of individuals with Parkinson’s disease will increase in the future. Adult-onset Parkinson’s disease is most common, but early onset Parkinson’s disease (onset between 21-40 years), and juvenile-onset Parkinson’s disease (onset before age 21) also exist.
What causes Parkinson’s disease?
A substance called dopamine acts as a messenger between two brain areas – the substantia nigra and the corpus striatum – to produce smooth, controlled movements. Most of the movement-related symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are caused by a lack of dopamine due to the loss of dopamine-producing cells in the substantia nigra. When the amount of dopamine is too low, communication between the substantia nigra and corpus striatum becomes ineffective, and movement becomes impaired; the greater the loss of dopamine, the worse the movement-related symptoms. Other cells in the brain also degenerate to some degree and may contribute to non-movement related symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
Although it is well-known that lack of dopamine causes the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, it is not clear why the dopamine-producing brain cells deteriorate. Genetic and pathological studies have revealed that various dysfunctional cellular processes, inflammation, and stress can all contribute to cell damage. In addition, abnormal clumps called Lewy bodies, which contain the protein alpha-synuclein, are found in many brain cells of individuals with Parkinson’s disease. The function of these clumps in regards to Parkinson’s disease is not understood. In general, scientists suspect that dopamine loss is due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
There is also something called Parkinson’s Dementia, which is a whole other ball game.
Early in the course of Parkinson’s disease dementia, mental slowing is
seen. Another sign (In medicine a sign is what a physician finds by examining
a patient. )For example, a patient with the symptom of pain might have signs of a
fast heart rate, a pale face, a clammy touch and tenderness. is
mental inflexibility. Compared to people with Alzheimer’s disease, those with
Parkinson’s disease dementia have somewhat worse visuospatial function, although
at the early stages, this is usually demonstrated better by formal testing (such
as the clock drawing task) than is seen in everyday life. Hallucinations are
often seen in Parkinson’s disease dementia. The hallucinations typically consist
of seeing things that are not there. In Alzheimer’s disease, hallucinations
generally occur late (e.g. in the severe stage), but in Parkinson’s Disease
dementia, they usually occur early (when the dementia is in the mild stage. )
In fact, in Parkinson’s disease dementia, hallucinations can be an
early sign of dementia. Even when seen as a reaction to too much dopamine, they
can be a sign of dementia to follow later.
Symptoms that are more specific for Parkinson’s Disease dementia are a mild memory impairment that at first responds to hints and cues. just as in Lewy Body dementia, patients with Parkinson’s Disease dementia can show large changes in attention and alertness from day-to-day (one day they are able to hold conversation, next day the cannot). Other manifestations of fluctuation in symptoms are episodes of staring blankly, especially if occurs to such an extent that you find
yourself touching or even shaking the person you care for so that they will
“snap out of it”. Daytime sleepiness can be another sign of fluctuation.
Sometimes, for reasons that are not clear, the fluctuation in alertness can be
made better by making changes to medications that smooth out the level of
Parkinson’s Disease dementia is a progressive Progression
A disease that is increasing in severity; going from bad to worse over time. disorder that has an average length of several years from the beginning of symptoms. The cause of Parkinson’s disease dementia is still unknown, but it is thought
that there are many genes which contribute to the development, including some
that are also thought to cause Alzheimer’s disease.
In the course of the 10 years, I have dealt with this disease, I have done a BUNCH of research on the subject. If only to find a way that will make the Road Momma is travelling easier for her. It is not an easy road to travel, and my heart goes out to other Caregiver’s that are dealing with this disease.
If I can get the word out and help at least one other person who has questions, then I feel good. If my experience on this road helps someone else on the journey they are on, then I am not on the road by myself.
I do have to say, I have found friends through my blog, and we have helped each other, y’all know who you are, and I thank you, for making my road easier to travel, because I have found I am not alone.