Families of people who have Parkinson’s disease may wonder how the disease will unfold with the patient they are taking care off. The question is a basic one, but unfortunately, Parkinson’s disease is not a basic disease and things may not unfold in the typical stages that Parkinson’s disease progresses.
Parkinson’s comes with two main types of possible symptoms. One kind of symptom impacts one’s ability to move and leads to motor-related issues like issues like tremors and rigid muscles. The other type of symptom has non-motor symptoms, like pain and loss of smell, and dementia.
You may not get all the symptoms. And you can’t predict how bad they’ll be, or how fast they’ll get worse. One person may have slight tremors but severe dementia. And someone else may have severe symptoms all around.
While the progression may be different for different people, symptoms begin to get worse over time and new symptoms will emerge.
Parkinson’s can change your quality of life in a major way. After about 10 years, most people will have at least one major issue, like dementia or a physical disability.
However, in terms of stages in the true sense, a typical progression of Parkinson follows the following five stages.
Stage one of Parkinson’s Disease
During this initial stage, the person has mild symptoms that will usually not interfere with daily activities. The person will experience mild tremors and other motor-related symptoms usually on one side of the body. Changes in posture, walking, and facial muscles may also appear during this stage.
Some of the symptoms at this stage could be:
- Your arms don’t swing as freely as they used to
- Making facial expressions become a problem
- Your legs feel heavy
- Posture becomes a little stooped
- Handwriting gets smaller
- You feel stiffness in your arms and legs
Stage Two of Parkinson’s Disease
In this stage, the symptoms being to get worse. The earlier tremors the person was experiencing start getting worse. Tremors, walking rigidity and facial problems begin to 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 2 often occurs within 3-7 years. While earlier on, you might have experienced some problems in say buttoning your shirt, at this stage, you might actually find it very difficult to do it at all.
Stage Three of Parkinson’s Disease
Considered mid-stage, loss of balance and slowness of movements are its hallmarks. Falls are more common. The person is still fully independent, but symptoms significantly impair activities such as dressing and eating.
The symptoms you can expect at this stage are:
- Changes in voice patterns
- Acute problems in walking – you may find yourself freezing while walking
- Trouble swallowing
- You are likely to fall and lose your balance
- Slower movements
- Small, shuffling steps
Stage Four of Parkinson’s Disease
At this point, symptoms are severe and limiting. It’s possible to stand without assistance, but you may require a walker to move around. You will require the support of a caregiver in assisting you with daily activities and you will be unable to perform most basic functions on your own.
This is when medication doesn’t help as much and serious disabilities set in. The good news is that some people never progress to this stage of Parkinson’s.
Stage Five of Parkinson’s Disease
This is the most advanced stage. Stiffness in the legs may make it impossible to stand or walk. The person requires a wheelchair or is bedridden. Around-the-clock nursing is required for the patient. The person may also experience hallucinations and delusions and other non-motor related symptoms.
At this point, it is likely that:
- You are completely bed ridden or limited to a wheel chair
- You cannot live on your own
- You have severe posture issues in your neck, back, and hips
- You need help with daily tasks
If you or someone you know has Parkinson’s and you are unsure of the stage of Parkinson’s disease or the treatment that is required, you are welcome to use the form alongside to either have us call you or fill in your details and be directed to the panel of Parkinson specialists that we have curated for you.