What’s Shaking With Parkinson’s?
Shaking is like lightening before thunder because neurological dysfunction commonly follows.
There are five primary motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease: tremor, rigidity, bradykinesia (slow movement), postural instability (balance problems), and walking/gait problems. The most obvious symptom of Parkinson’s disease is tremors—notably the hands, but also other parts of the body. For this reason, people may assume it is a musculoskeletal disorder. Even if physicians prescribe anti-convulsive medications with a mild sedative, there are more symptoms to address down the road.
Original definition: “Involuntary tremulous motion, with lessened muscular power, in parts not in action and even when supported; with a propensity to bend the trunk forward, and to pass from a walking to a running pace, the senses and intellects being uninjured.” —James Parkinson, 1877.
Shaking is like lightening before thunder because neurological dysfunction commonly follows. The original definition of Parkinson’s disease (Parkinsonism) states, “The senses and intellects [are] uninjured.” Current studies indicate that it alters one’s mental state.
Progression is slow and unpredictable. After about 10 years, most people will have at least one major issue, like dementia or a physical disability. The 5-stage Hoehn and Yahr rating system focuses solely on symptoms of movement. Up to 30 percent of people at stage 4 and 5 experience confusion, hallucinations, and delusions.
- Uncontrollable shaking and tremors
- Limb stiffness
- Slowed movement (bradykinesia)
- Balance difficulties
- Eventual problems standing up
Parkinson’s Disease Affects Personalities
A transformation is underway—an individual with a vastly different personality emerges. Someone who was jovial is likely to become quite serious. A peaceful person can become argumentative and unreasonable. A gregarious individual may become aloof. And there isn’t much anyone can do to prevent the metamorphosis other than come to terms with it.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA) Encyclopedia of Psychology, new personality traits comprise four domains: thinking, feeling, behaving, experiencing the environment. The traits are more obvious with advanced Parkinson’s disease but some are apparent in early stages.
A person may begin to experience more negative emotions (neuroticism), becoming more anxious (fearful) or depressed (withdrawn or moody). He may have difficulty letting go of ideas/beliefs (stubbornness) or become overly drawn to detail (obsessive). He may exhibit difficulty completing work assignments (unproductive) because they have difficulty organizing (careless). He might try previously unsuccessful methods over and over (uncreative).
- Take time for yourself to relax.
- Learn as much as you can about your loved one’s disease.
- Patiently allow your loved one participate.
- Consult your loved one about his or her family affairs (living will, DPA, DNR order).
- Set realistic goals for yourself and your loved one.
- Do not put your life on hold.
- Have someone you can talk to either through a family member or a support group.
Parkinson’s disease is not life-threatening in itself but imbalance may result in fatal falls. Research by Oregon State University psychologist Karen Hooker, PhD, found that older adults who care for ailing spouses experience less stress and fewer depressive symptoms if they think through their goals and expectations about caregiver roles to give them meaning. Understanding Parkinson’s Disease anatomy poster provides additional information that is helpful to physicians and caregivers.