Understanding More about Parkinson’s Disease

Author: Kay Jurica

In a recent news story, a breakthrough in Parkinson’s disease (PD) research was reported. Researchers identified a biomarker in brain and body cells they call the “Parkinson’s protein,” that is linked to the development of PD. Since there is no cure for PD yet, this exciting breakthrough means that people with this “Parkinson’s protein” may be able to proactively slow the development and progression of PD through medications and therapeutics even before signs or symptoms of PD are noticed.

“The breakthrough, announced last night (April 12) as it was published in the scientific journal The Lancet Neurology, opens a new chapter for research, with the promise of a future where every person living with Parkinson’s can expect improved care and treatments — and newly diagnosed individuals may never advance to full-blown symptoms,” says the Michael J. Fox Foundation.

Because April is Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month, the timing of this news is perfect! It actually prompted me to share more information about PD, courtesy of the Illinois Chapter of the American Parkinson’s Disease Association, so we all understand more about Parkinson’s disease.

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s disease is a type of movement disorder that impacts one’s ability to perform common, daily activities. It is a chronic and progressive disease, meaning the symptoms worsen over time.

Who does PD affect?

An estimated 1 million people in the U.S. live with Parkinson’s disease and more than 10 million people worldwide. Most people who develop the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease do so sometime after age 50, but Parkinson’s disease can affect younger persons as well. Approximately 10% of Parkinson’s diagnoses occur before age 50—these diagnoses are called Early Onset (or Young Onset) Parkinson’s disease.

What causes PD?

The exact cause of Parkinson’s is still unknown, but there is an enormous amount of research being done to learn more. This research has led scientists to formulate a number of theories on the cause of this disease.

There is some evidence for the role of genetics, environmental factors, or a combination of both. It is also possible that there may be more than one cause of the disease. Scientists generally believe that both genetics and environment interact to cause Parkinson’s disease in most people who have it.

What are the signs and symptoms of PD?

PD is characterized by its most common of motor symptoms—tremors (a form of rhythmic shaking), stiffness or rigidity of the muscles, and slowness of movement (called bradykinesia)—but also manifests in non-motor symptoms including sleep problems, constipation, anxiety, depression, and fatigue, among others.

What are the treatment options for patients with PD?

Parkinson’s medications are the mainstay of treatment, but modalities are often used in combination. Physical, occupational and speech therapy can be critical to the treatment plan. Surgical options also have an important role for a subset of patients with Parkinson’s disease. Finally, complementary therapies can be used to treat some Parkinson’s disease symptoms. Your physician and other healthcare professionals can help you determine the best treatment plan for your symptoms.

What kind of prognosis is there for patients with PD?

Michael J. Fox was diagnosed with PD in 1991, and today, he is still an advocate for PD patients and research to find a cure for this dreadful disease. You can view the trailer for his new movie, “Still,” streaming on Apple+ May 12.

Just know, it is possible to maintain an active and positive lifestyle through healthy choices, medical assistance, and support from your family, friends, and community.

I was recently contacted by the daughter of a senior gentleman with PD, and her family is in need of a caregiver who can help with respite care for family caregivers and specialized Parkinson’s care for her Dad.

At Home Helpers, we find it very rewarding to help seniors on a daily basis by providing in-home care services and support. It is even more gratifying to lend a steady hand to senior clients with Parkinson’s disease because they require more specialized care that the compassionate caregivers I employ are skillfully trained to deliver.

If you or someone you love has PD, Home Helpers® Kankakee can provide assistance and support to help make their life easier. I gladly offer a FREE Assessment to discuss specific needs and recommend the many ways we can help!

Home Helpers® Bourbonnais/Kankakee/Frankfort proudly serves male and female seniors in Beecher, Bourbonnais, Bradley, Dwight, Frankfort, Kankakee, Manteno, Mokena, New Lenox, Orland Park, Palos Heights, Palos Hills, Tinley Park, Watseka, Wilmington, and surrounding areas. Contact me today to learn more about the many services offered through Home Helpers® - We are Making Life Easier℠ for you and yours! 815.427.4238


Michael J. Fox Foundation

Illinois Chapter of the American Parkinson’s Disease Association



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