If you’re like most people, you aren’t eager to spend time thinking about what would happen if you became unable to direct your own medical care because of illness, an accident, or advanced age. However, if you don’t do at least a little bit of planning — writing down your wishes about the kinds of […]
The Layman’s Guide To Parkinson’s Disease
As a senior, you have to be prepared for any conditions that may come your way, as some inevitably will as you get older. Unfortunately, there are some diseases and conditions that one just cannot prepare for. Parkinson’s Disease is one such condition. It occurs predominantly in the elderly but can be present in a small number of younger people. It is not primarily caused by mental degeneration, as is the common perception, although it is related to the brain. However, regardless of that fact, it can still be extremely frustrating for both the sufferer and his or her family because the condition is progressively degenerative and the former will know exactly what is happening for quite a while before the black hole of oblivion takes over.
Parkinson’s Disease is caused by the nerve cells in the body slowly breaking down so that they are unable to relay the messages that the body is sending to the brain. The main function of the nerve cells is to connect the brain and the body to let the former know what the latter is doing and vice versa. Unfortunately, as the nerve cells slowly become more damaged, they are unable to function correctly and thus wires get crossed. It is at that point that the sufferer begins to lose all control of what his or her body is actually doing.
The early symptoms are a slight shaking of the hands, arms, legs and jaw, also known as tremors. This is because the nerves begin to affect the muscles and affect movement. After a while, these symptoms will become noticeable to everyone around you and will then begin to progressively worsen as time goes on. Parkinson’s usually affects one side of the body more than the other and can also affect all forms of communications. It may be a chore to write because the tremors prevent accurate lettering and, after a while, the sufferer’s speech will also be affected. The full-blown shakes do not usually begin until a few years after the initial tremors start, although it can be as little as a few months for some sufferers. There is no telling how long this progression will take, but once it starts it is only a matter of time.
Doctors do not, as yet, know what causes Parkinson’s Disease, despite extensive research into it. There is not even an official test to diagnose the patient. Most diagnoses are made on medical histories and tests to rule out other ailments and illnesses. Unfortunately, this means that there is no cure available to sufferers. Once you have it, you have got it for life. This can take some getting used to, but many sufferers simply get on with their lives until they reach the point where this is no longer possible. The disease often causes depression, as well as making everyday tasks, such as getting dressed, near on impossible. Buttons and laces could be the hardest puzzle in the world to a Parkinson’s sufferer and this makes it extremely frustrating.
There are drugs that will help alleviate symptoms for Parkinson’s Disease sufferers in the short term, although they have no beneficial effects in the long term. Certain medications can stop the tremors for short periods of time and thus allow sufferers to get on with their lives as normal. These drugs include carbidopa-levodopa, bromocriptine, selegiline, pramipexole, ropinirole, tolcapone and pergolide. Of course, they all have different brand names but are designed to do the same job. Some medications will suit an individual, but others will make symptoms worse for a time. Nobody can tell which ones will work and so doctors usually have to experiment to get it right.
Parkinson’s Disease is a horrible illness for the sufferer and the people close to him or her. There is very little that can be done, but being diagnosed early can alert patients to the amount of time they have to make the most of life before it takes over their bodies. Research is still ongoing but until there is a cure, life just has to go on as normal.