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Understanding Parkinson's Disease: A Guide for Caregivers

Updated: Apr 8

During Parkinson's Awareness Month in April, our main objective is to increase awareness and foster a better understanding of Parkinson's disease. This month allows us to recognize and appreciate the strength and courage of individuals living with Parkinson's, their caregivers, and those involved in Parkinson's research.

Throughout April, we will share valuable information, strategies, and resources to assist you and your family comprehend Parkinson's disease more effectively. Our focus for this week is on Understanding Parkinson's.


caregiver holding senior woman's hand

Understanding Parkinson's


Parkinson's disease is a progressive disorder that primarily affects movement. It occurs when dopamine-producing cells in the brain are lost. Dopamine is a chemical messenger that helps facilitate smooth and coordinated muscle movements. As the disease progresses, individuals may experience tremors, stiffness, slow movements, and difficulty with balance and coordination.


In addition to motor symptoms, Parkinson's disease can also cause non-motor symptoms such as cognitive impairment, depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, and digestive issues. These symptoms can significantly impact an individual's quality of life and daily functioning.


It is important to note that Parkinson's disease affects each person differently, and the progression of the disease can vary. Some individuals may experience mild symptoms that progress slowly over many years, while others may develop more severe symptoms faster.


While there is currently no cure for Parkinson's disease, there are various treatment options available to help manage the symptoms and improve quality of life. These may include medications, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and lifestyle modifications.


Signs & Symptoms


Parkinson's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that primarily affects the motor system. The most common symptoms include tremors, muscle stiffness, and bradykinesia (slowness of movement). These motor symptoms often start on one side of the body and eventually progress to both sides as the disease progresses.


Tremors are typically the first symptom noticed by individuals with Parkinson's. They often begin in the hand or fingers and can manifest as rhythmic shaking or twitching. These tremors usually occur at rest and may decrease or disappear during voluntary movement.


Muscle stiffness, also known as rigidity, is another common symptom. It can make movements difficult and cause a feeling of tightness or resistance in the muscles. Rigidity often affects the limbs, neck, and trunk, making it challenging for individuals with Parkinson's to perform daily activities.


Bradykinesia refers to the slowness of movement experienced by people with Parkinson's. It can affect various tasks, such as walking, getting up from a chair, or performing fine motor activities like buttoning a shirt. Bradykinesia can also lead to a decreased range of motion and a loss of facial expressions.


In addition to these motor symptoms, Parkinson's disease can also cause non-motor symptoms that significantly impact a person's quality of life. These include:


  • Depression: Many individuals with Parkinson's experience changes in mood, including feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities.

  • Sleep disturbances: Parkinson's can disrupt sleep patterns and result in insomnia, excessive daytime sleepiness, vivid dreams, or restless leg syndrome.

  • Cognitive changes: Some people with Parkinson's may experience cognitive impairment, such as difficulties with memory, attention, and problem-solving.

  • Autonomic dysfunction: Parkinson's can affect the autonomic nervous system, leading to symptoms like constipation, urinary problems, excessive sweating, and low blood pressure.

  • Speech and swallowing difficulties: As the disease progresses, speech may become softer, slower, or slurred. Swallowing difficulties, known as dysphagia, can also occur, leading to problems with eating and drinking.


It is important to note that the progression of Parkinson's disease varies from person to person. Some individuals may experience a relatively slow progression with mild symptoms, while others may have a more rapid progression with severe impairments. Regular medical evaluations and assessments by healthcare professionals are crucial for monitoring symptoms and adjusting treatment plans accordingly.


Treatment Options


While there is no cure for Parkinson's disease, there are various treatment options available to help manage its symptoms and improve the quality of life for individuals living with the condition.


One of the main treatment approaches for Parkinson's disease is medication. Different types of medications, such as levodopa, dopamine agonists, and MAO-B inhibitors, are prescribed to manage the symptoms of Parkinson's. These medications can help alleviate symptoms such as tremors, stiffness, and bradykinesia. However, each medication has its own set of potential side effects, and the dosage may need to be adjusted over time to achieve optimal symptom control. Other treatment options can be beneficial for individuals with Parkinson's disease.

Elderly man smiling with his physical therapist

Physical therapy and exercise play crucial roles in managing Parkinson's symptoms. Physical therapy can help improve balance, flexibility, and strength, reducing the risk of falls and improving overall mobility. Occupational therapy can also be beneficial. It focuses on maintaining independence in daily activities and finding adaptive strategies to overcome any challenges. Speech therapy can help individuals with Parkinson's improve their speech and swallowing abilities, which can be affected as the disease progresses.


Additionally, support groups and counselling can provide emotional support and help individuals cope with the challenges of living with Parkinson's disease. Overall, a combination of medication, therapy, and support can greatly enhance the quality of life for individuals with Parkinson's.

We have put together a helpful guide for individuals who have been newly diagnosed with Parkinson's. This short guide provides an introduction to the disease's symptoms, tips on how to start living well with the diagnosis, and resources on care appointments and homecare options.

Click on the link below to download your copy!

Parkinson's Disease - A Guide for Newly Diagnosed Individuals
Download • 1.70MB


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1 Comment

Caroline Mcgaughey
Caroline Mcgaughey
6 days ago

At the age of 66, my spouse was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. His symptoms included excruciating calf pain, muscular aches, tremors, slurred speech, frequent falls, loss of balance, and trouble standing up from a seated posture. After six months on Senemet, Siferol was given to him in place of the Senemet. It was also at this period that he was diagnosed with dementia. He began seeing hallucinations and became detached from reality. With the doctor's approval, we stopped giving him Siferol and chose to try the Natural Herbs Center PD-5 program, which we had previously investigated. After three months of therapy, he has made significant progress. The illness has been completely contained. There are no symptoms of persistent twitching, weakness,…

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