by Barbara Fradkin
First, it’s important to realize you are not alone; there are approximately 5,000 people in Brevard County with Parkinson’s disease — which is a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. The Parkinson’s Disease Foundation estimates 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with PD each year. The incidence of PD increases with age, but about four percent of people are diagnosed before age 50. Men are 1.5 times more likely to have Parkinson’s disease than women.
Diagnosing Parkinson’s is not always easy, but here are 10 signs you might have it. No single item is a cause for concern, but if you have multiple symptoms, it’s time to talk with your doctor.
- Tremors– Have you noticed a light shaking in your finger, thumb, hand or chin — while at rest?
- Small handwriting– Have you recently acquired “micrographia”– abnormally small or cramped handwriting?
- Loss of smell– Your sense of smell can be affected by a cold, flu or COVID, but it should return afterwards.
- Trouble sleeping– Is your sleep very restless? Do you “act out” with sudden movements while dreaming?
- Trouble moving or walking– Is there stiffness in your body, arms or legs? Have others mentioned your arms no longer swing when you walk?
- Constipation– Do you consistently strain to move your bowels, even with sufficient water and a fiber-rich diet?
- Soft or low voice– Have others mentioned how quiet or hoarse you sound?
- Masked face– Has your resting facial expression become more serious, depressed or angry?
- Dizziness or fainting– Are you suddenly dizzy when you stand up? Low blood pressure can be linked to PD.
- Stooping or hunching over– Has your posture changed? Leaning or slouching can be early warnings.
Exercise is an important part of staying healthy with Parkinson’s. Russell Lewey, owner of Titusville Uppercut (Rock Steady Boxing) explains.
“Studies in the 80’s and 90’s indicated that rigorous exercise, emphasizing large movements, balance, core strength, and rhythm, could favorably impact range of motion, flexibility, posture, gait, and activities of daily living for Parkinson’s patients.”
There is so much I can write about Parkinson’s disease, but my word limit is coming to an end. Please join us for the Team Up for Parkinson’s Run/Walk on Saturday, March 19th at Wickham Park. Dr. Ramon Rodriguez, an Orlando movement disorder doctor will be there to deliver some remarks– and plenty of PD information will be on hand. Call me at 321-751-6771 for more information about the run and Parkinson’s resources in Central Florida.
One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. Send questions to askOSP@OneSeniorPlace.com, call 321-751-6771 or visit The Experts in Aging at OneSeniorPlace.com. Barbara Fradkin is a Social Worker, Certified Care Manager and the Director of One Senior Place, Viera.