Caring for Someone with Parkinson's Disease

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a progressive, neurodegenerative disorder, which means the disease results in the slow degeneration of nerve cells. Symptoms will vary from person to person and evolve over time, but common symptoms include:

  • Tremors

  • Bradykinesia (unusually slow movement accompanied with great difficulty)

  • Muscle rigidity

  • Walking and balancing problems

Someone living with PD might also be affected by non-motor symptoms such as apathy, depression, constipation, sleep disorders, loss of smell, and cognitive impairment.

The cause of Parkinson’s is largely unknown, and currently, there is no cure. However, it is still very possible to live a good quality of life with PD.

Early Signs of Parkinson’s Disease

In the early stages of the disease, it might be hard to tell if you or a loved one has PD. Listed below are some early signs you might have Parkinson’s. If you are experiencing more than one, consider seeing your doctor.


Shaking of the hand, finger, or chin while you are at rest is a common sign of PD.

Loss of Smell

There are a number of reasons you might lose your sense of smell, such as allergies or a common cold. If your sense of smell seems to be getting weaker and not coming back, ask your doctor about Parkinson’s.

Small Handwriting

A change in your handwriting may be a sign of Parkinson’s called micrographia. Notice if you are writing your words smaller and more crowded together than you used to.

Trouble Sleeping

Most of us can experience sleep issues from time to time; quick movements and jerking around are pretty normal when falling asleep or lightly sleeping. However, if you are thrashing around in bed while you are in deep sleep, it might be a sign of PD.

Stiff Movement and Trouble Walking

If your stiffness doesn’t seem to go away after some movement, this might be a sign of Parkinson’s. Some people report their feet to feel “stuck to the floor,” or their arms don’t quite swing like they used to. Early signs of stiffness might show up in the shoulders or hips.

A Soft or Low Voice