Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder. This is a disorder that primarily affects the motor nervous system of the body. As a result of this, the affected individual suffers from an altered coordination and movement.
Parkinson’s disease usually affects people in the middle to later years. The most common age group to be affected by this disease is between 50 to 75 years. However, people in the young age group are also likely to be affected. Each person is affected differently. As a result of this, the rate of progression of the disease differs greatly. The intensity, frequency and severity of the symptoms also vary greatly on an individual basis. The illness progresses at a very slow rate and longevity of life is not shortened. Treatment for Parkinson’s disease is targeted at symptom relief. The main aim of the treatment is to alleviate the symptoms. The treatment does not halt or slow the progression of the illness.
Symptoms usually become evident on one side of the body initially and will affect both sides as Parkinson’s progresses. The three hallmark symptoms of this disease are tremors, rigidity of muscles and bradykinesia or slowness of movement. It is difficult to diagnose Parkinson’s disease as there are no special laboratory diagnostic tests or identifying markers to confirm a diagnosis. Diagnosis is based mainly on the symptoms, clinical presentation and a progressive history of deterioration in function and movements of the affected individual.
Parkinson’s disease can affect a person’s role within a family and therefore alter the roles and responsibilities of other family members. It may significantly affect the person’s ability to perform the household chores. Leisure activities, driving, and the capacity to maintain current income can be disrupted or limited. The person suffering from this disease may also suffer from depression and a decreased level of self confidence and self esteem as a result of their inability. It can put a strain on his relationship with other family members as well. Many carers receive no training, guidance or instructions on how to cope with someone who has Parkinson’s disease. The primary care giver, especially if they are a close family member such as a spouse, parent or a sibling may experience a whole range of feelings; such as guilt, anger, resentment, fear and bereavement. They need general information, and counseling. These days, many support groups are available that combine training as well as practical help and emotional support for the care givers and the affected individuals.
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