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APR 18/2016

What is Parkinson's?

Parkinson's tremor

Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological condition. The cause is unknown. People with Parkinson’s don’t have enough of the chemical dopamine in their brains which means their movements become slower, taking them longer to do things.

Who does it affect?

Parkinson’s UK state that around one in every 500 people will have Parkinson’s. In the UK it estimated that 127,000 people have the condition. Most people are over the age of 50 but Parksinson’s can affect younger people too.

Common symptoms

People with the condition don’t have all the same symptoms. The symptoms can change as the condition progresses. The main characteristics of a person with Parkinson’s are:

  • Tremors – usually beginning in one hand or arm, the condition can cause a person’s hands and body to shake. Although it’s the most common symptom that people associate with Parkinson’s its useful to note that not everyone has it.
  • Rigid or stiff muscles – can make it difficult to do everyday things like turning around, fastening a button, typing or even getting up. It can affect a person’s posture as well as the ability to make facial expressions.
  • Slowness of movement – as the condition progresses this can cause problems with balance and walking which can lead to falls. Some people also experience freezing where they stop suddenly when moving or walking and may not be able to move again for a while.  
Non-motor symptoms

Parkinson’s doesn’t just affect a person’s movement. It can also have an impact on an individual in lots of other ways. For example, some people also experience anxiety, depression, apathy, bowel or bladder problems, dental issues, problems when swallowing, fatigue, pain, skin and sweating problems, sleep and night-time difficulties.

Everyday living

Generally the focus in the early stages of Parkinson’s is on maintaining a person’s health and wellness and preventing future problems. This can include learning more about the condition, looking at problem-solving techniques and setting goals.

As the condition progresses, the symptoms can get worse and affect a person’s quality of life in areas such as mood, communication and movement. However, the symptoms don’t develop at a set speed or in the same order as every person’s experience is different. There are sadly no treatments available to cure the condition but there are medications and things people can do to manage the condition and keep control of their lives. It is recommended that individuals have a positive attitude, keep stress to a minimum and continue to have an active lifestyle.

If people live on their own they may need support with everyday task so they can continue to live independently. They can speak to their health professionals or social work team to access support with practical help around the home such as cleaning and ironing which will be noted in their care plan. The support would be delivered as part of a wider care package and is dependent on the local authority. Authorities have contracts with providers of homecare services such as Medacs Healthcare who help people to live independently in their own homes.

To find out more about the condition visit Parkinson’s UK You can also check out our careers in care by clicking here.

Sources: Parkinson’s UK, Parkinson’s Disease Foundation

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