Navigating the Early Stages of Parkinson’s Disease

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Navigating the Early Stages of Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson's disease isn't just a medical term; it affects every aspect of a person's life. It is a progressive disorder that affects the nervous system and the parts of the body controlled by the nerves. This neurological condition impacts individuals in physical, emotional and in practical ways. Despite the challenges, it can be navigated with the right support, treatment, and courage.

This article offers essential guidance for those dealing with Parkinson’s, aiding in symptom management, and preparing for the future.

What is Parkinson’s?

Parkinson’s is a gradually increasing neurological disorder that primarily affects movement. It occurs when nerve cells in the brain, specifically in a region called the substantia nigra, become damaged or die off. These cells are responsible for producing dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays a crucial role in coordinating movement and muscle control. While there is currently no cure for Parkinson’s, various treatment options are available to help manage symptoms and improve quality of life, including medications, physical therapy, and in some cases, surgical interventions.

Stages of Parkinson’s: 

Parkinson’s disease is typically divided into five stages.

  • Stage 1:  This stage involves mild symptoms, usually affecting one side of the body.
  • Stage 2: In this stage symptoms become more apparent and affect both sides of the body.
  • Stage 3: In stage 3 significant motor impairment is present but the individual can still live independently.
  • Stage 4: It involves severe motor impairment, requiring assistance with daily activities.
  • Stage 5: This stage advances disease, requiring full-time care and assistance.

It is important to note that the progression of Parkinson’s disease is unpredictable, and individuals may experience different symptoms and severity at each stage.
Parkinson disease

Early signs of Parkinson’s:

Identifying Parkinson’s disease in its initial stages can pose a challenge due to the variability of symptoms among individuals. However, there are several common signs that may indicate the onset of the condition.
Tremors: One of the most recognizable early symptoms is tremors, particularly noticeable in the hands. These tremors often display as a slight shaking or trembling motion, especially when the hands are at rest.
Stiffness: Alongside tremors, individuals may experience stiffness in their limbs, making movements feel rigid or inflexible. This stiffness can affect various parts of the body, including the arms, legs, and neck.
Slowed movements: Slowed movements, medically termed bradykinesia, manifest as a noticeable slowing down of tasks like getting out of a chair or walking may require more time and effort than before.
Risk of Falls: Problems with balance and coordination may arise, leading to an increased risk of falls or difficulty maintaining stability while standing or walking.

Read More: What is the main cause of Parkinson’s disease?

Symptoms Management:

To manage the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, a combination of medication, multidisciplinary support, and lifestyle changes are often recommended.

1. Medication:

Medications like levodopa, dopamine agonists, COMT inhibitors, anticholinergics, amantadine, and MAO-B inhibitors are used to manage the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
These medications aim to maximize the availability of dopamine in the brain, which is necessary for smooth and controlled movements.

2. Multidisciplinary therapy:

Physical, occupational, and speech therapies can help manage gait and voice disorders, tremors, and rigidity, and decline in mental functions. These therapies can also improve flexibility, balance, and coordination.

2. Multidisciplinary therapy:

Physical, occupational, and speech therapies can help manage gait and voice disorders, tremors, and rigidity, and decline in mental functions. These therapies can also improve flexibility, balance, and coordination.

3. Healthy diet: 

A healthy diet can support overall wellness and help manage constipation, a common symptom of Parkinson’s disease. Regular exercise can strengthen muscles, improve balance, flexibility, and coordination, and help manage symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

Making Healthy Fitness Meals for Seniors

4. Palliative care:

Palliative care can help to improve the quality of life for people with Parkinson’s at any stage of the disease. It can reduce tension and help manage tremors, although its effectiveness is not well-studied.

Factors that Trigger Parkinson’s: 

Factors that can trigger Parkinson’s disease include:

1. Low dopamine levels:

Parkinson’s disease symptoms mainly result from low or falling levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter. It happens when cells that produce dopamine die in the brain. Dopamine plays a role in sending messages to the part of the brain that controls movement and coordination. Therefore, lower dopamine levels can make it harder for people to control their movement. As dopamine levels continue to fall, symptoms gradually become more severe.

2. Low norepinephrine levels:

Low levels of norepinephrine in Parkinson’s disease may increase the risk of both motor and nonmotor symptoms, such as:

  • stiffness and rigidity
  • postural instability
  • tremor
  • anxiety
  • difficulty focusing
  • dementia
  • depression

3. Environmental and Genetics Factors:

The combination of genetic susceptibility and exposure to environmental factors may play a role in triggering the disease. Exposure to toxins like pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals, and environmental pollutants may contribute to Parkinson’s.
Advancing age is a significant risk factor for Parkinson’s, with onset typically after age 60. Men are more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease than women.
Parkinson's senior care


Parkinson’s disease is a complex and challenging journey that affects individuals and their loved ones in various aspects of their lives. By working together with healthcare professionals and support networks, individuals with Parkinson’s disease and their families can navigate the early stages of the disease that ultimately improve their overall quality of life.

Want to learn more?

Reach us at, or call us at 1-855-410-7971, and we will be happy to assist. Discover more tips in our information booklets or on our resources page.


1.  What are the early stages of Parkinson’s disease?

The early stages of Parkinson’s disease are characterized by mild symptoms such as tremors, rigidity, bradykinesia, postural instability, and non-motor symptoms like cognitive changes and mood disorders.

2. How to deal with a family member with Parkinson’s disease?

To deal with a family member with Parkinson’s disease, offer emotional support, practical caregiving tips, communication strategies, manage medications and treatment, and assist with legal and financial planning.

3. How long does it take to progress through the stages of Parkinson’s?

The progression of Parkinson’s disease varies among individuals, typically advancing over several years with symptoms worsening. The disease is categorized into five stages, but the progression is unpredictable, with varying symptoms and severity.

4. How do you motivate someone with Parkinson’s disease?

To motivate someone with Parkinson’s disease, Set realistic goals and celebrate progress.

  • Encourage physical activity and exercise.
  • Provide emotional support and open communication.
  • Stay positive and focus on abilities.
  • Join support groups and community activities.

5. Is Parkinson’s painful?

Parkinson’s disease itself is not typically painful, but it can cause secondary pain due to muscle stiffness, cramps, and dystonia (involuntary muscle contractions). These symptoms can lead to discomfort and pain, which can be managed with medications, physical therapy, and other treatments.

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