This Parkinson’s Awareness Month, we take a look at the symptoms of the often-misunderstood disease, and where you can find support

Sonly care. Pleasant young man tying the tie of his elderly father while the man laughing, closing his eyes

This month was Parkinson’s Awareness Month and a time to raise awareness about the often-misunderstood disease. Parkinson’s is the second most common neurological disease in Australia after dementia. However, most people are unaware that it affects each individual differently. We take a look at what the symptoms can be and the kind of support that will help you and your family in early diagnosis.

It’s important to remember that no two people with Parkinson’s will have the same experience. Symptoms which may appear for some might not for others. The stage of a person’s Parkinson’s Disease, which we detailed in a previous post on the Mable blog, will determine what symptoms may begin to appear.

What are the possible symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease?

According to Parkinson’s Australia, there are two main categories of symptoms; motor symptoms and non-motor symptoms.Motor symptoms of Parkinson’s may include:

Tremor – these often occur when someone is resting and typically starts in one area. Slowness of movement Muscle rigidity Instability – commonly associated with falls and usually a later symptom.
Non-Motor symptoms of Parkinson’s may include:
Loss of senses, which includes loss of sense of smell and vision disruptions. Mental health issues including mood disorders, hallucinations and sometimes impulse control. Constipation and gastrointestinal issues. Fatigue, pain and cramping. Speech problems which could include stuttering and a loss of volume. Sexual issues including impotence. Changes in handwriting. Drop in blood pressure on rising from a lying or sitting position. Excessive salivation and swallowing difficulties. Sleep disorders including REM sleep disorder (where a person acts out their dreams), intense or vivid dreams and excessive daytime sleepiness.Sweating and increased sensitivity to temperatures. Cognitive changes can impact the ability to think and reason, memory difficulties, personality changes and dementia . Urinary urgency, frequency and incontinence.

How is Parkinson’s Disease diagnosed?

Parkinson’s Australia suggests the most recognisable symptom is the tremor however in 30% of cases, this won’t be present. Most people who are diagnosed with Parkinson’s will typically have muscle rigidity (known as bradykinesia) in addition to another key symptom for a diagnosis to be considered. There is no definitive test for Parkinson’s – it will often rely on your medical history and your doctor’s clinical exam. Your doctor may also refer you to a specialist for further assessment.

How do I find support after a Parkinson’s Diagnosis?

​Parkinson’s Australia has a free information line available to call 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday (1800 644 189). The organisation also recommends keeping active and maintaining social connections. Physical activity will help you to manage your symptoms and may also slow the progression of the disease. Your state-based Parkinson’s Australia organisation will also be able to provide you with information on support groups, so you can connect with others living with Parkinson’s.The type of support you require will differ as Parkinson’s progresses. Mable provides access to hundreds of independent support workers and allied health professionals offering their services directly to clients. With Mable, you search for and engage workers directly, so you can schedule and manage support around your life. You may need to increase the hours of support as the disease progresses, or adjust your support as you discover what does and doesn’t work for you.
Our community of independent health practitioners include Nurses, Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists and Speech Pathologists amongst aged care workers and people who provide social and domestic assistance to clients.

Search online to see who’s offering services in your area. Or, register for free to start contacting support workers today.