Parkinson's disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder (Alzheimer's being the first), and primarily affects individuals over 50 years of age. Parkinson's is a progressive disease where the symptoms can be minor in the beginning and often progress to a point where they become debilitating.
Parkinson's has received a recent increase in attention due to a handful of well-known celebrities that have suffered with the disease; including Michael J. Fox and Muhammad Ali.
Common Signs and Symptoms
The three most common signs and symptoms of Parkinson's are as follow:
- Resting tremor
Occurs in about 70% of persons with Parkinson 's disease. This generally begins as a slight tremor or trembling in one side of the body when the muscles are at rest. This later progresses onto the other side of the body and worsens with time.
Slow and often incomplete movements, generally combined with a sensation of muscle "freezing" where the muscle seems to freeze in place before or during a voluntary movement.
Also referred to as increased muscle tone. Rigidity creates a stiffness or inflexibility of the muscle, often resulting in stiff limbs and a decreased range of motion.
While those diagnosed with Parkinson's may have additional symptoms, such as stooped posture, fatigue, difficulty with swallowing and speech, the four listed above are the most common and recognizable.
Prevention and Treatment
Even amidst growing awareness, knowledge of treatments and preventions is surprisingly primitive. A small percentage of cases can be attributed to genetic influence, but the majority of cases are not genetic based. Your odds of getting Parkinson 's disease increase as you get older, if you have ongoing exposure to herbicides and pesticides, and if you are male.
Currently there is no cure for Parkinson 's disease, although there are several treatments that can minimize the symptoms and slow the disease's progression. Treatment options range from medication and various forms of therapy to surgery, depending upon the severity of the case and the response to prior treatment. These treatment options can show strong positive effects on some of the symptoms and can slow the disease's progression.
What to Do Now?
If you or a loved one are suffering from Parkinson's Disease, there are some important steps to take.
1. See your physician for an official diagnosis. Be sure to ask questions and get as much information as you can from your practitioner.
2. Make a plan for the future that entails who will serve as a caretaker; would in-home assistance or a nursing home be preferred; how to pay for care; who to designate for important legal, financial and healthcare decisions.
3. Get all legal affairs in order.
Getting Legal Affairs in Order
Since Parkinson's is a progressive disease, functioning capabilities continue to deteriorate. Because of this, it is imperative that steps are taken early on to ensure that legal matters are in order and that future care in ensured. It is also important that one or more persons are selected to handle financial, medical, healthcare and other important decisions on the behalf of the individual suffering from Parkinson's.
Setting up a Power of Attorney (POA), Healthcare Power of Attorney (HPOA) a Living Will and a HIPAA document are imperative. For superior protection of a loved one and their assets, a living trust should also be created. These various documents are crucial for ensuring that your loved one is taken care of and that trustworthy individuals are legally designated to handle important affairs.
Morris Hall (MH) has focused on estate planning for forty years and can help guide you and your loved one in the direction that will best help you prepare for the road ahead. Our attorneys and our life care specialists can help you with everything from legal planning, financial assistance, help for caregivers, additional resources and more.
Find out more information and schedule a free consultation by calling 888.222.1328 or visiting us online at Morristrust.com.