Parkinson’s Disease: Early Warning Signs & Symptoms in Seniors


It is estimated that nearly one million people in the U.S. are living with Parkinson’s disease (PD), and approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with PD each year.

In fact, the percentage of Parkinson’s disease rises with age, particularly after 60.

What could be worse if you find that you or your loved one has Parkinson’s disease (PD)?

After Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease has become the second most common neurodegenerative disorder. 

Well, there are several treatments and medication options available to lessen the symptoms and signs that come along with PD. Unfortunately, there is no cure yet. That’s why it’s worth learning about its early signs & symptoms in seniors to provide proper care and well-being.

In the following write-up, we will elaborate on every single detail about Parkinson’s disease in detail.

Let’s have a look!

What Is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a progressive neurological system disorder that affects your ability to control movement. It generally damages the brain cells, which causes abnormal brain activity and changes in motor skills, speech, and cognitive abilities. PD has already affected around 1 percent of people aged 65 years and older. 

The disease often starts subtly and progresses over time. If your family seniors have Parkinson’s disease, they may shake, have muscle stiffness, and have trouble walking as well as maintaining their balance and coordination. However, once the disease gets worse, your seniors might start experiencing some additional difficulties while talking and sleeping. They will also face mental and memory problems, experience behavioral changes, and have other symptoms.

However, Parkinson’s disease symptoms and signs usually develop slowly over several years as they are subtle at first. So, you might miss the early signs.

Who Most Likely Suffers From Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s disease is most commonly seen in persons 60 years of age and above, as discussed above. Some patients are diagnosed with the disease before age 50. Thus, Parkinson’s is more likely to develop in:

  • People with a family history of PD
  • Males
  • Middle-aged or senior adults
  • People live in a geographical location commonly exposed to pesticides

Is Parkinson’s Disease Inheritable?

Scientists have discovered gene mutations influence the risk of developing Parkinson’s. However, not all people with gene mutations develop Parkinson’s.

PD starting before age 50 may be inherited. Scientists also demonstrated that the gene is responsible for producing a protein involved in packaging the neurotransmitter dopamine in neurons. Loss of such dopamine-producing neurons is a defining characteristic of Parkinson’s disease. They are trying to know about the function of the protein alpha-synuclein and its relation to genetic mutations that are found in Parkinson’s patients. There are various other gene mutations that play a role in PD. Mutations in these genes induce abnormal cell functioning, which attacks the nerve cells’ ability and prompts nerve cell destruction. 

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According to scientists, 10% to 15% of Parkinson’s patients may have a genetic mutation that activates them to the development of the disease. 

Why Does Parkinson’s Occur More in the Elderly?

The most common and major risk factor involved in Parkinson’s disease is “age”. Even the exact causes are still unclear. But, doctors determine the PD results on the basis of genetic and external factors.

So, what causes Parkinson’s disease? Parkinson’s disease affects several areas of the body and brain. In the early stages, Parkinson’s disease is difficult to detect as noticeable clinical symptoms appear only in the later stages. The initial period of the disease can last for more than one decade. Neurons die unevenly and the brain does not signal the problem. 

Such degeneration of nerve cells (neurons) in a brain region called the substantia nigra pars compacta, which further generates motor symptoms, including tremor, rigidity, and loss of spontaneous movement. The neurons available in the substantia nigra pars compacta region are more sensitive to some toxins. These toxins attack an organelle in neurons called mitochondria, which are essential for generating ATP, the energy source in a cell. 

The main function of organelles is to clear up and remove damaged proteins. However, with age, a huge reduction occurs in organelles and alpha-synuclein protein starts building up, which forms Lewy bodies that damage neurons.

In PD, it is stated that motor signs first appear when about 50% of substantia nigra (SN) dopamine neurons are lost. Dopamine is a type of neurotransmitter that transmits signals for producing smooth, purposeful movement. 

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and StrokeTrusted Source, the symptoms of PD typically start to develop when a person’s brain has lost 60 to 80 % of its dopamine-producing neurons in the substantia nigra.

Hence, such extensive reduction in neurons overtime starts showing different motor symptoms.

Therefore, it is important for people whose relatives or family members have this disease to closely monitor their health since the disease. You need to note several signs that may indicate a disease.

What are Early Warning Signs of Parkinson’s Disease?

For helping people reach an appropriate diagnosis and receive suitable Parkinson’s care, you need to be aware of some early warning signs of PD. So, pay attention to the following signs. This could help you consider taking consultation with our professional caregivers regarding long-term care for Parkinson’s patients.

  • Impaired Speech or Memory

Memory impairment is a common occurrence among elderly people. So this symptom is rarely paid attention to. Speech impairment is more noticeable. Patients lose their ability to show any emotions in a voice. They cannot speak in different tones, the voice becomes slower. And, when repeating phrases, the person begins to get nervous, stutter.

  • Sleep Problems

Symptoms may include sleep fragmentation and early awakening in the morning. Large-amplitude movements of the arms and legs are also other main symptoms during the “REM sleep” phase.

  • Limb Tremor

Shaking hands or other limbs is a characteristic sign of Parkinson’s disease. Its manifestation becomes most noticeable in stressful situations. The person himself may not feel this involuntary movement.

  • Bradykinesia (Slowness of Movement)

Parkinson’s disease has symptoms such as slowing down movement. This symptom is especially noticeable when the face seems to freeze – the eyelids rarely blink, speech becomes monotonous.

  • Postural Instability

The appearance of this symptom immediately attracts attention, although such symptoms appear in the later stages of such diseases. Due to illness, it is difficult for a person to change posture and lose his/her balance. The abundance of these symptoms leads to frequent falls.   

  • Muscle Stiffness

Increased muscle tone can occur anywhere in the body. This condition leads to painful sensations, limiting the range of motion.

  • Pre-illness

Already at the stage of pre-illness, a person may become lethargic, and don’t initiate. At the same time, patients are annoying, they tend to repeat the same questions. Signs of dementia often begin to appear. Depression occurs in about 47% of cases. This symptom is more typical for men.

  • Deterioration of Smell

In the early stages of the disease, odor recognition problems are also a common symptom. This is due to the disruption of the stable functioning of a certain part of the brain, which affects the ability to smell. This symptom is the earliest and can be traced a couple of years before the onset of other disorders.

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How Soon Can Parkinson’s Disease be Diagnosed?

It might be quite difficult to diagnose and make a true determination of Parkinson’s disease. However, early signs are defined as prodromal or preclinical symptoms.

Prodromal symptoms are early signs that might prove that someone has Parkinson’s disease. Though all these signs have a pretty high possibility of signaling an expected Parkinson’s problem. But, there is still not a 100 % probability. Unusual prodromal symptoms are deterioration of smell, constipation, anxiety or depression, and REM behavior disorder.

What Are the Different Parkinson’s Disease stages?

A person suffering from Parkinson’s disease experiences different symptoms, depending on their age and other external factors. Not everyone undergoes all symptoms of PD. Some might experience mild symptoms, while others might have serious symptoms. The variation in symptoms also differs from person to person. Hence, it’s quite impossible to predict the actual source.

Parkinson’s disease progresses from early-stage to mid-stage to mid-late-stage to advanced stage. Here are the following: 

  • Early Stage

Early symptoms of PD are mild, which befall slowly and do not impede daily activities. Sometimes, it’s quite difficult to diagnose the early symptoms as they are defined as normal signs with age. Seniors might feel a slight tremor or difficulty maintaining their posture stability. Body stiffness, lack of normal movement, slow or small handwriting, lack of expression on your face, or difficulty getting out of a chair are common early-stage symptoms.

  • Mid Stage

At this stage, symptoms start showing their worsening appearance. Tremor, muscle stiffness, and movement problems will affect both sides of the body. Falls and body imbalances are becoming more common. Bathing and dressing also seem quite difficult for seniors and take a longer time to complete.

  • Mid-late Stage

Standing posture stability and walking are common symptoms in this stage. Seniors might require the assistance of a family caregiver who lives continuously at home with them.

  • Advanced Stage

At this stage, you or your family seniors require a wheelchair to walk around. Hallucinations or delusions are common symptoms. Hence, an urgent need for a full-time in-home caregiver seems a necessity.

You now require a wheelchair to get around or are bedridden. You may experience hallucinations or delusions. You now require full-time nursing care.

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Parkinson’s Care and Diagnosis

Most people come up with concerns like – How to prevent Parkinson’s disease?

As we discussed above, it’s quite difficult to notice and recognize the early signs of Parkinson’s disease. If you, your loved ones, or seniors are experiencing any above-mentioned symptoms, it’s time to consult a doctor. Since there is not a blood or laboratory test available for diagnosing an individual, doctors most likely diagnose the disease on the basis of a person’s medical history and a person’s neurological signs and symptoms. 

That’s why it is important to try to cure the disease with appropriate Parkinson’s mobility care services. Prescriptions include a well-ordered lifestyle and exercise for balance and stretching. 

We have bonded and insured in-home caregivers who will not only take care of our seniors who suffer from Parkinson’s disease but also provide all in-home care services, including transportation, housekeeping, dressing, grooming, walking, personal care, etc.

Why Hire In-Home Care for Seniors with Parkinson’s Disease

Finding out your aging parent or senior is suffering from Parkinson’s disease is a truly more disagreeable moment. 

Maybe you’re thinking about your aging parents and planning for the care you want to give them. At the same time, there are lots of things that need to be considered for providing healthy well-being to your seniors. Sometimes, a situation occurs where you need to change your approach to handle what they go through.

Instead of dealing with such challenges and preparing yourself ahead of your parents’ needs, one of the best decisions is to start in-home caregiving services with Justin Villa Care.

Taking assistance from our in-home caregiving agency for your seniors as early as possible can make a tremendous difference in your parent’s quality of life, health, and well-being throughout the progression.

Here are the following benefits of having in-home caregiving services for your seniors:

  • Provide Customized Special Care

A person suffering from Parkinson’s disease requires regular care to maintain their health, well-being, and body function. Starting our in-home caregiving services as early as possible will assist and support your parents every time. Hence, your seniors and parents will feel more comfortable and at ease with our caregivers.

  • Protect Mental and Emotional Health

Living with Parkinson’s disease can be emotionally stressful and challenging for your parents. However, our highly personalized and well-planned in-home care services will help your seniors and elders to find fulfillment, joy, and happiness in their life. It further prevents loss of motivation, depression, and other potentially serious issues.

  • Offer Proactive Care

You might not easily diagnose the development of symptoms your aging parents are experiencing. A doctor can help them to recognize their condition and the different stages they’re going through. Having our in-home care services ensures and provides proactive care, helping your parents manage their needs and stay safe while undergoing different stages. It helps them to feel safer, healthier, and keep their quality of life high with age.

Contact Justin Villa Care – In-Home Caregiving Agency

Finally, if you or your loved ones are going through or diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, let Justin Villa Care assist you. We have a well-qualified and proficient caregiving team, assuring the well-being and healthy life of your parents and seniors.

Have any questions? Feel free to contact us today!




Brenda Villanueva, R.N. is the owner and supervisor of Justin Villa Care, LLC; a licensed in-home care agency that serves seniors in Los Angeles and Orange county. Since 2006, she has helped seniors stay at home through caregiver services, such as, bathing, dressing, meal preparation, transferring, incontinence care, and Alzheimer’s care.

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Justin Villa Care Implements Safety Measures to Protect Clients From COVID-19

Justin Villa Care is dedicated to implementing proactive measures during this difficult time to support our caregivers, clients and families. Here are some of the measures we are implementing to help your loved ones to stay home and stay safe.

Caregiver and Staff Education

Our caregivers and staff have received communication and training in:

  • Symptoms
  • Safety protocols
  • Travel reporting requirements
  • Proper handwashing techniques
  • Respiratory etiquette
  • Warning signs of illness
  • Infection control protocols, including effective cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces and hands Following CDC and local health authority guidance

Caregiver and Staff Monitoring

We will not place any caregiver with a client for a minimum of 14 days or until cleared by a medical provider if the caregiver has:

  • Been exposed to a facility where COVID- 19 is being treated
  • Traveled to a location on the CDC advisory list in the past two months
  • Started showing symptoms of the illness
  • We will not place any caregiver who has symptoms of illness on assignment or accept new clients who demonstrate symptoms that are highly consistent with the COVID-19 diagnosis or who have traveled to Level 1-3 areas in the most recent 14 days.

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