Parkinson’s Disease in the Elderly: Symptoms and Treatment

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Older adults must face many health challenges as they age, and one that rears its ugly head is Parkinson’s disease. Around 60,000 people are diagnosed with the disease each year, and there are around 1 million people currently living with and battling it.

Understanding Parkinson’s disease is the first step toward formulating a game plan for you or your loved one. Watching for symptoms of Parkinson’s disease in your elderly loved ones, and being aware of the treatment, can help decrease worry and stress, and make the situation a bit more comfortable.

Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease in Older Adults

  • Rigid Muscles. Stiffness in the person’s extremities and neck may be a symptom of Parkinson’s. If these muscles are aching for seemingly no reason for more than a few days, it’s time to visit the doctor.
  • Balance Issues. Feeling “unsure on your feet” when you have been sure-footed before, is a sign. Being unbalanced so you lean forward or backward to stay upright may signal Parkinson’s disease.
  • Tremors. This is perhaps the most well-known of symptoms of Parkinson’s disease in the elderly. You may notice uncontrollable hand tremors that may start small and gain power. They might even move up through the arms. If you notice even small tremors, schedule a doctor’s appointment immediately.
  • Slow Movements. Many of us slow down as we get older, so this symptom is more difficult to pinpoint. If there is a quick progression, however, it may be more than a simple by-product of aging.

Treatment for Parkinson’s Disease in the Elderly

Unfortunately, the disease is difficult to diagnose in many cases, and is incurable. The good news that older adults can live with Parkinson’s disease comfortably with the proper types of treatment.

  • Regular Medication. A treatment plan will most likely include at least one medicine for the patient. Fortunately, advances in medicine have given those with Parkinson’s disease hope for a relatively normal life.
  • Surgery. Treating Parkinson’s disease in older adults with surgery is usually only an option when medication has become less effective and the symptoms have begun to get worse.
  • Therapy. In addition to following a medication routine, several types of therapy may improve a patient’s overall health and help minimize Parkinson’s toll on the person’s lifestyle. Physical, occupational, and speech therapy have all been successful in helping Parkinson’s disease patients maintain a high quality of life for longer. Psychological therapy is also helpful in working through the emotions that such a debilitating disease brings on.
  • Exercise. By exercising several times a week, an older adult battling Parkinson’s disease can help improve their balance, keep their muscles strong, and release some stress. Water exercises are good choices, along with simple walking. Pilates is another good option.

A diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease for you or your elderly loved one is bad news, but there are workable forms of treatment that can help maintain a high quality of living for many years. Knowing the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease in older adults is key in getting a diagnosis early so a proper plan of Parkinson’s treatment can begin.


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