Understanding Parkinson’s Disease: Signs, Symptoms and Stages

Parkinson’s disease affects a staggering amount of people around the world. According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, about one million Americans are living with Parkinson’s with nearly 60,000 being diagnosed each year. Most times, the bulk of those diagnosed are over the age of 50 and men are one and a half times more likely to be diagnosed than women. While many people have heard of Parkinson’s, many still don’t know exactly what it is, what causes it or what the signs and symptoms are. Knowing this information can help to get themselves or their loved ones diagnosed and treated sooner. 


According to Diane Reier, Lifestyle Specialist at Aspired Living® of Prospect Heights, a senior living community in Prospect Heights, IL., Parkinson’s disease can affect seniors in a number of ways, in fact, it can be caused by a number of factors. “While the exact cause of Parkinson’s is not known, it’s possible that there are a few factors that influence the onset of Parkinson’s,” says Diane. “Genes, genetic mutations, gender and age can play a factor, as can a number of environmental triggers such as head injuries, occupations, pesticide use and other chemicals.”


Signs of Parkinson’s Disease

If you are concerned that perhaps you or a loved one might have Parkinson’s disease, try looking out for some of the top early warning signs provided by the Parkinson’s Foundation.


Tremors. One of the most common markers of Parkinson’s disease is slight shaking and trembling in the fingers, thumbs, hands or chin. While you or a loved one may experience this after exercise, if you notice this at rest, it’s important to talk to your doctor. 

Changes in handwriting. It’s common for those with Parkinson’s disease to experience changes in their writing, such as letters getting smaller and words becoming closer together. According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, this is called micrographia. 

Trouble sleeping. Has a loved one noticed that you make thrashing movements in your sleep? If your loved one is tempted to move somewhere else to sleep, consider talking to your doctor.

Issues when moving or walking. Have you noticed your body, arms or legs feel stiff and that it’s harder to walk? According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, if stiffness doesn’t go away after moving for a bit, it could be Parkinson’s disease. 

Hunching over. If you or a loved one have begun to hunch over or started stooping, instead of standing or sitting up straight, it may signal Parkinson’s disease.

A masked face. It’s common for those with Parkinson’s disease to have a mad, upset or serious expression on their face at all times which is also called a masked face, according to the Parkinson’s Foundation. 

According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, if you or a loved one only experience one of these signs, it might not mean you have Parkinson’s disease. If you do exhibit more than one, consider talking to your doctor.


Symptoms in Each Stage of Parkinson’s Disease

The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease can vary depending on the stages. In fact, there are five stages, which can affect people in many different ways. According to the Parkinson’s Foundation article about the stages of Parkinson’s, not everyone will experience the same symptoms and they may not be affected in the same way. According to the article, typical Parkinson’s disease progression can look like this:


1. Stage One. The first stage usually doesn’t impact daily activities. While there may be very mild symptoms, such as tremors and movement issues on one side of the body or changes in posture, walking and facial expressions, most don’t cause big problems. 

2. Stage Two. This is the stage where movement symptoms begin to affect both sides of the body and other symptoms may become more apparent to others, such as walking and poor posture. According to the article, someone with these symptoms can live alone but it may be harder for them to complete daily tasks. 

3. Stage Three. In this stage, loss of balance, slower movements and falls are common. The article states that symptoms can impair the ability to dress or eat, but otherwise they can continue living independently.

4. Stage Four. Those with stage four Parkinson’s disease are not able to live alone. They need help with daily activities and likely need a walker to help them get to where they need to go.

5. Stage Five. As the final stage, symptoms have progressed to the point where the person may no longer be able to stand or walk. They likely need around-the-clock care and may begin to experience hallucinations. 


While there’s not a one-size-fits-all treatment for Parkinson’s disease, some symptoms are treatable through medications, therapies and even lifestyle changes. Talk to your doctor about any of the symptoms you are having in order to come up with a treatment plan that will be right for your diagnosis.


We Would Love to Hear from You!

If you have comments or questions about our blog, we’d love to hear from you. We also welcome you to read our recent blog articles on current caregiver and memory care topics.  


Live Well. Age Well. Be Well.

Offering Independent, Assisted Living and A Knew Day Memory Support, Aspired Living® of Prospect Heights is a distinctive senior living community designed to offer seniors residing in the Chicago Northwest Suburbs area a fresh alternative to “typical” senior living communities.

Aspired Living® of Prospect Heights provides residents with the ideal balance of personalized support, dignified privacy and enhanced independence complemented by luxurious amenities and our life-enriching, award-winning VIVA!SM programming by Pathway to Living®.

Managed by Pathway to Living®, an innovator in senior living, Aspired Living® offers the choice of a private studio or a one- or two-bedroom apartment and the beauty of a brand new community, stunningly appointed and decorated for unsurpassed comfort and style by the award-winning senior living design firm, Thoma-Holec Design, Inc.


For more information, please call Diane or Janette, Lifestyle Specialists, at 847-243-6920.

Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Aspired Living ® of Prospect Heights for general informational and educational purposes and do not constitute legal or medical advice. For legal or medical advice, please contact your attorney or physician.