When we think of medical conditions related to aging that might call for an assisted living facility, Parkinson's isn't always at the top of the list. Alzheimer's, congestive heart failure, or diabetes are more immediately associated with aging-- and when you're first planning your retirement, they might seem like they're a long way off. However, Parkinson's affects one million Americans, and the average age of diagnosis is at just 56 years of age.
While this condition isn't terminal like cancer, it is progressive, and there is no cure. That's not as scary as it sounds, however. Parkinson's certainly has an impact on mobility, memory, speech, and even how oily a person's skin might be, but the symptoms are manageable with medication, diet, and seeking out the kind of support that a senior care facility can provide. In that regard, it's similar to other conditions associated with aging like high blood pressure and arthritis.
Parkinson's was discovered in 1887, and it's diagnosed by looking at the four primary symptoms: tremors, rigidity in the wrist and elbow joints, lack or slowness of movement, and an unstable posture. Understandably, some of those symptoms might be at first mistaken for standard sides of aging. But when they become unusually severe at an oddly young age, that's one sign that something more might be going on.
In addition to those physical symptoms, Parkinson's gets associated with depression and anxiety, due to the disorder's impact on dopamine levels in the brain. Treatment includes medication, but surgery may also be an option, as well as electrode therapy. Lifestyle changes are also crucial to reducing the impact of Parkinson's on a person's quality of life.
Hubert Fernandez, MD, the James and Constance Brown Family Endowed Chair in Movement Disorders notes that "the treatment plan should be tailored to the most pressing concern." In other words, every Parkinson's case is different and should be treated differently depending on what symptoms are the most severe.
It is entirely possible to continue to live a full and productive life -- look at the example set by famous people with Parkinson's including Linda Ronstadt and Richard Thompson. Getting assistance with things like meals and household chores and ensuring safe mobility, especially in the bathroom, can make a huge difference. That's where a senior living facility like Morningside comes in. The high level of care takes much of the pressure of residents, allowing them to enjoy socialization and recreation and maintain as much independence as possible.
A Parkinson's diagnosis, like those of so many other conditions, can feel scary and overwhelming at first. But unlike many other disorders, it's possible to carry on with your plans for your golden years, to spend time with loved ones, and indulge in hobbies without missing out. All it takes is a solid treatment plan and a caring community to live your best life.
To learn more about Morningside, call us at (205) 752-5500.
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