If you have a senior loved one with Parkinson’s, you’re likely wondering what causes the disease. Named after English doctor James Parkinson, Parkinson’s disease doesn’t have one specific root cause that has been identified. Symptoms begin to develop after nerve cells in the brain responsible for controlling movement either become impaired or die off entirely, resulting in the reduced production of chemical messengers. While this is essentially what contributes to Parkinson’s disease, there are other possible contributing factors that have been identified through research. Here are some of the basics of Parkinson’s—the more you know, the better you’ll be able to address the symptoms of your loved one’s condition.
Loss of Chemical Messengers
Research suggests in addition to the loss of the chemical messenger dopamine (which is responsible for movement), the inability to produce significant amounts of another chemical messenger, norepinephrine, may also contribute to some symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease. Norepinephrine affects the sympathetic nervous system, which controls the body’s automatic functions, such as heart rate and blood pressure. Reduced production of both dopamine and norepinephrine may cause symptoms ranging from extreme fatigue to a loss of balance.
Early diagnosis is critical because Parkinson’s disease can be particularly challenging in its final stages, and family caregivers can easily get overwhelmed. Caring for a senior loved one can be challenging for families who don’t have expertise or professional training in home care, but this challenge doesn’t have to be faced alone. Family caregivers can turn to Richmond Home Care Assistance for the help they need. We provide high-quality live-in and respite care as well as comprehensive Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care.
Head injuries are another possible reason seniors develop Parkinson’s. After a senior has a head injury, lesions can develop in his or her brain. If these lesions don’t heal properly, they could cause plaques to develop in the brain, affecting normal function. Aging adults should be careful to prevent head injuries by maintaining their health and avoiding tasks that present an increased risk of falling.
Head injuries have also been linked to a higher risk of developing conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. If your senior loved one has Alzheimer’s and needs help managing daily tasks, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of Alzheimer’s care. Richmond Home Care Assistance provides reliable caregivers around the clock to help your loved one age in place safely and comfortably while living with Alzheimer’s disease.
It’s now widely believed that Parkinson’s isn’t passed down from generation to generation but is instead the result of genetic mutations that randomly occur. Scientists, already having confirmed several genetic mutations linked to the disease, believe there are other genetic connections that have yet to be discovered. Additional genetic factors may include certain viruses and a buildup of harmful proteins.
Researchers also contend exposure to certain toxins in the environment may contribute to the genetic mutations responsible for the onset of Parkinson’s disease. Some scientists are exploring the possibility that certain toxins may cause or worsen certain symptoms commonly associated with Parkinson’s.
Confirming a Diagnosis & Moving Forward
Doctors rely on thorough neurological examinations that include brain scans to rule out other possible causes of symptoms individuals are experiencing. The exclusion of other possible conditions coupled with visible signs of motor impairment are what typically confirm a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease.
If your loved one has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, it’s best to start planning for his or her care needs as soon as possible. While certain symptoms can be controlled and effectively addressed with medications, certain daily activities will naturally become difficult and even dangerous to perform. It’s important to have a long-term care plan in place that includes assistance from friends, family, and support services such as in-home care.
If your loved one has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, he or she can benefit greatly from having a professional caregiver help with everyday tasks. Families looking for top-rated elder care providers can reach out to Home Care Assistance. From respite care to specialized Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care, there are many ways we can make life easier for seniors and their loved ones. For reliable in-home care services, contact us at (804) 207-4746 today.