According to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, Parkinson’s is a chronic and progressive movement disorder that currently affects almost one million people in the US. With symptoms ranging from slight tremors to complete loss of mobility, Parkinson’s is a progressive disease that breaks down brain cells over time. Although roughly 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s every year, there are still misconceptions surrounding the disease. Whether you are someone who has recently been diagnosed or you are a family member providing care for an aging parent or loved one, the following are three common misconceptions about Parkinson’s that you should be aware of:
- There is only one type of PD. This statement is false. There is no “one type” of Parkinson’s and each diagnosis is going to be different. The disease is often classified in stages, ranging anywhere from mild to advanced and can develop slowly or at a rapid pace. Seniors and their caregivers who understand the uniqueness of each diagnosis can ensure that the proper treatment and care is provided.
- Parkinson’s cannot be treated. Because there is no cure for Parkinson’s, many people falsely assume there is no way to treat the disease. While research and clinical trials are being done every day to find a cure, there are medications to help with the symptoms that arise. Along with medication, there are numerous coping mechanisms and lifestyle changes that can be made, such as removing stress and participating in more enjoyed activities, which have been shown to help improve quality of life. Parkinson’s specialist also recommend that patients enlist in the help of a part-time home caregiver as the disease progresses to better manage symptoms and to provide medication reminders.
- Parkinson’s is not terminal. There are numerous accounts of individuals who are able to live with this condition for years. While Parkinson’s does not directly result in a terminal diagnosis, as symptoms worsen, complications including pneumonia and pulmonary conditions can arise, threatening the patient’s health and sometimes becoming fatal. For those recently diagnosed and for their caregivers, it is of the utmost importance to monitor any complications that arise to ensure that they are treated with the appropriate medications and medical attention.