A senior woman in a wheelchair talks with her nurse.

The Progression of Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a slowly developing neurological disorder that affects the body. It is classified as a “movement disorder” because it changes your brain’s ability to control parts of your body at will. Other movement disorders include cerebral palsy and Tourette syndrome.

When most people think about Parkinson’s disease, the recognizable symptoms tend to come to mind such as shaking, tremors and stiff. However, everyone does not experience Parkinson’s disease in the same way. Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder that impacts the nervous system, and it worsens over time.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, you may be wondering what the future holds. Your doctor will use a rating scale to determine the progression of the disease. The scale consists of five stages to evaluate the condition.

Stage 1 of Parkinson’s Disease

This beginning stage of Parkinson’s disease has minimal symptoms, if any at all. If symptoms are present, they may include tremors and affect one side of the body. For example, one side of the face may be affected, or one hand or leg may feel slower than the other. Your family and friends may notice changes in your posture or facial expressions. Any symptoms that are present aren’t severe enough to interfere with daily activities. Diagnosis is difficult at this stage, and the affected person may not even seek medical attention at this point.

Stage 2 of Parkinson’s Disease

During stage 2, Parkinson’s disease symptoms are much more noticeable. At this point, the disease begins to affect your entire body. Changes in facial expressions, speech abnormalities and increased tremors or stiffness may occur. Routine daily activities take longer to complete and posture changes are more visible. Stage 2 may occur months or even years after stage 1.

Stage 3 of Parkinson’s Disease

Stage 3 is considered the mid-point of Parkinson’s disease and includes a loss of balance and coordination. Your reflexes become slower, and falls are more common in this stage. Many of the symptoms from stage 2 are present here, and daily activities such as getting dressed, eating, and getting out of bed become more and more difficult. It is important to note that patients in stage 3 can still live independently.

Stage 4 of Parkinson’s Disease

In stage 4, Parkinson’s has progressed to a disabling disease. Patients are unable to live independently due to delayed reaction times and will need assistance with activities of daily living. In fact, living alone at this stage can be unsafe. Many use a walker for assistance with getting around.

Stage 5 of Parkinson’s Disease

In the final and most severe stage of Parkinson’s disease, confusion, delusions and hallucinations may occur. Patients experience advanced stiffness in the legs and may freeze or stumble when attempting to walk. Around-the-clock assistance is needed, and many people require wheelchairs or are confined to a bed. At this stage, dementia also occurs in up to 75% of people with Parkinson’s.

It bears repeating that the progression of the disease varies from individual to individual. For example, not everyone with Parkinson’s disease will experience the severity of stage 5. While Parkinson’s disease itself isn’t fatal, the symptoms associated with it can be, such as injuries from falls, problems related to dementia or immobility leading to heart issues.

Specialized Parkinson’s Care at Saint Simeon’s

Saint Simeon’s is committed to providing a higher quality of life for those in need of Parkinson’s disease. We provide a unique program developed specifically for people with Parkinson’s disease. This program is under the direction of Dr. Mary Nole, who develops customized wellness plans for each participant.

The Parkinson’s disease program at Saint Simeon’s is unlike any other in Oklahoma. Our dedicated nursing staff and wellness team have received specialized Parkinson’s disease education and training to maintain or restore skills that may have deteriorated. Saint Simeon’s Parkinson’s care is endorsed by the Parkinson Foundation of Oklahoma and the American Parkinson Disease Association. For more information, don’t hesitate to contact us today.

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