April is National Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month, and we’re taking the opportunity to answer some FAQs from around the internet about Parkinson’s disease (PD). Keep reading to learn some helpful information about the disorder and how to care for loved ones who have been diagnosed with PD.
What is the most common cause of Parkinson's disease?
Scientists have identified a few causes of PD. A combination of genetics, environmental and lifestyle influences will ultimately determine whether someone will develop PD. Studies are ongoing relating to the genetic factors and mutations that are present in Parkinson’s patients and others at risk for Parkinson’s. It’s believed genetics are responsible for about 10 to 15 percent of PD cases.
What does Parkinson’s feel like?
Each case of PD comes with unique symptoms, as no two cases are the same, but there are commonalities based on the way PD affects the brain. Symptoms of PD are largely based on falling amounts of the neurotransmitter, dopamine, in the brain. The disease progressively weakens dopaminergic connections, making it harder to control your muscles and movements. Patients may also regularly experience “freezing,” a temporary, involuntary inability to move that can happen at any time, without warning.
Can Parkinson's be prevented?
The research around Parkinson’s prevention is a little murky. Because the causes are vague and not entirely understood, it’s hard to pinpoint ways to prevent the disease. But researchers do suggest habits like eating a balanced, healthy diet regularly, and taking cannabidiol (CBD) may decrease your likelihood of developing Parkinson’s or other health issues.
What are some tips for Parkinson's caregivers?
Caring for a loved one with Parkinson’s can be difficult and draining. Know there are tips and support for caregivers.
· Establish open communication and expectations
It can be extremely taxing to be the caregiver in a dynamic where one person is helpless and the other is providing all the support. Establish reasonable boundaries and responsibilities for both parties, while Parkinson’s can be inherently limiting, especially in the beginning phases, patients may still be able to complete certain daily tasks on their own. If it’s ever becoming too much, have an honest conversation about your struggles and explore new options in the dynamic, or bring in additional help either temporarily or indefinitely.
· Learn about the disease and its typical progression
The best way to prepare is to know what’s coming. While no two patients will experience PD the same way, it’s important to have a baseline knowledge of what you can typically expect from the disease. Make a point to attend doctor visits, even in the beginning stages, to better understand what’s happening and what will happen with the disease. Ask questions and stay vigilant to prepare for what’s to come.
If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of PD, contact your primary care provider to learn more about Parkinson’s disease and evaluate your risk.