Medical Alerts for Seniors with Parkinson’s Disease

Introduction

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive condition that tends to affect people over 60 years old. It involves the deterioration of cells in some parts of the brain that produce dopamine, a substance that assists with muscle movement.The disease will make movement more difficult over time and may also cause non-movement problems like sleep problems, depression and anxiety.

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Parkinson’s Disease Overview

Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disorder that affects the neurological system. It causes progressive loss of the ability to control muscle movements. Most people who are diagnosed are 60 years of age or older, however, there have been cases of early-onset and juvenile-onset Parkinson’s. The cause of Parkinson’s is unknown. What is known is that a deterioration of cells in certain parts of the brain cause deterioration in the ability to move muscles.

Some of these cells produce a substance called dopamine. Dopamine acts as a messenger between two parts of the brain and assists with smooth muscle movement. There is no cure for Parkinson’s, but treatments are available to alleviate some symptoms.

Parkinson’s Disease Impairment

Parkinson’s disease impairs a person’s ability to manage voluntary muscle movements. Symptoms include:

  • Tremors of the extremities, jaw or head
  • Stiffness of the limbs and trunk, which may cause aches and pains
  • Voluntary movements become slow
  • Inability to maintain balance
  • Walking with a particular gait that is like shuffling
  • Increased difficulty in speaking and completing simple tasks

In addition to these primary symptoms, the disease can cause a set of ‘non-motor’ symptoms.  These include:

  • Anxiety, confusion, and depression
  • Impaired sense of smell
  • Sleep disorders
  • Cognitive problems
  • Constipation and bladder problems
  • Sexual disfunction
  • Fatigue
  • Pain or tingling in limbs
  • Lightheadedness

Some of the secondary symptoms can be treated with medications.

Medical Alert Benefits

The progressive nature of this disease makes its effects somewhat predictable. It will not flareup like other diseases. As symptoms worsen, the person will experience more difficulty in managing tasks, speech and walking. Early on, most symptoms of the disease can be managed using prescription medications.

One of the most difficult symptoms to manage is the increased possibility of falling due to balance problems.The ability to call for immediate help with medical alerts would provide a quick response by emergency personnel. It would also provide peace of mind to those who suffer with the disease, and to their family members. Eventually, a person with Parkinson’s will be unable to live alone, and should have a caregiver available at all times.

Safety Without Medical Alerts

A person in the early stages of the disease will not need to have regular support of family members. However, as the disease progresses, it is important that the person have a caregiver or family member who can help when the person is walking or managing daily tasks. In cases where the person is experiencing non-motor symptoms, he or she may need additional support of their physician. These symptoms can often be treated with medications.

Parkinson’s Disease Precautions

Many people believe that Parkinson’s patients only have motor-related problems. In fact, most Parkinson’s sufferers have more difficulty with the non-motor symptoms. Most of these symptoms can be addressed with medications.

  • Depression and emotional changes are common with this condition. Treatment for depression can assist the person in dealing with other symptoms of the disease.
  • Fatigue and anxiety can also be treated with medication.
  • In cases when medication is not effective in treating tremors, deep brain stimulation may alleviate this symptom of the disease. Surgery is needed to implant the equipment that provides the stimulation to that area of the brain.The procedure is effective in reducing tremors, but will not affect slow movements or stiffness.
Parkinson’s Disease Medical Alerts Conclusion

As a progressive disease, the effects of Parkinson’s are known, although the stages are different for each person. In early stages of the condition, medical alerts would be nice to have but would not necessarily be recommended. As the disease progresses and walking becomes more difficult, medical alerts would provide peace of mind, and would assist in getting help quickly should the person experience a fall due to their balance difficulties.

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