10 Early Warning Signs Preface the 5 Stages of Parkinson’s Disease

Author: Debbie Humphrey

When I was in my late teenage years and my early 20’s, I spent a lot of time with my maternal Grandmother. She was a lovely woman inside and out, and we always shared a special bond.

During that time when I stayed with her, I started noticing changes in her behavior and thought processes. She would hallucinate that cockroaches were crawling up her walls, and she would experience sleepless nights trying to protect herself and me from them.

At that time, I did not know about Parkinson’s Disease (PD), but I feel very strongly now that she would’ve received that diagnosis, considering everything I’ve learned.

“Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is the second most common degenerative neurological disorder after Alzheimer’s disease. It is estimated that PD affects 1 percent of the population over the age of 60,” according to the Parkinson’s Association of Southwest Florida (PASF).

In 2021, PASF reported that Florida ranked #1 nationally for the highest percentage of the population with PD, and the Sunshine State is #2 nationally for the highest number of people diagnosed with PD, which, at the time of the initial report, stood at 64,000.

10 Early Warning Signs of Parkinson’s Disease

The hallucinations my Grandmother experienced are one sign that she may have been in the later stages of PD. It was not the only indicator, which leads me to believe that she had it.

According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, one symptom is not indicative of early-onset PD, but if you notice more than one of the following 10 early warning signs of PD, I strongly recommend that you or your loved one consult with a doctor:

  • Tremors
  • Small Handwriting
  • Loss of Smell
  • Trouble Sleeping
  • Trouble Moving or Walking
  • Constipation
  • A Soft or Low Voice
  • Facial Masking (Sad or mad look on their face)
  • Dizziness or Fainting
  • Stooped or Hunched Posture

5 Stages of Parkinson’s Disease

If you or your loved one is diagnosed with PD, it is important to understand the 5 stages of Parkinson’s Disease as explained by the Parkinson’s Foundation:

Stage 1During this initial stage, the person has mild symptoms that generally do not interfere with daily activities. Tremor and other movement symptoms occur on one side of the body only. Changes in posture, walking, and facial expressions occur.

Stage 2Symptoms start getting worse. Tremor, rigidity, and other movement symptoms affect both sides of the body. Walking problems and poor posture may be apparent. The person is still able to live alone, but daily tasks are more difficult and lengthy.

Stage 3Considered mid-stage, loss of balance and slowness of movements are hallmarks. Falls are more common. The person is still fully independent, but symptoms significantly impair activities such as dressing and eating.

Stage 4At this point, symptoms are severe and limiting. It’s possible to stand without assistance, but movement may require a walker. The person needs help with activities of daily living and is unable to live alone.

Stage 5Thisis the most advanced and debilitating stage. Stiffness in the legs may make it impossible to stand or walk. The person requires a wheelchair or is bedridden. Around-the-clock care is required for all activities. The person may experience hallucinations and delusions. The Parkinson’s community acknowledges that there are many important non-motor symptoms as well as motor symptoms.

April is Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month, which is why I found it so important to share this information with you. The more you understand about the early warning signs and stages of PD, the better prepared you will be to face the future.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, I can help by assigning a compassionate caregiver to assist with specialized care services during each stage of progression. I am happy to offer a FREE Consultation to assess specific needs and create a personalized care plan to help make life easier for everyone.

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Parkinson’s Association of Southwest Florida

Parkinson’s Foundation


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