What are the stages of Parkinson’s?
Parkinson’s disease is broken into five stages. Each stage presents changing or new symptoms that a person is likely to encounter.
Dividing the disease into stages helps doctors and caregivers understand and address some of the challenges a person is experiencing as the disease progresses.
During the initial stages of Parkinson’s disease, the symptoms are typically not severe. A person can perform everyday tasks with minimal issues, so many of the signs and symptoms of stage 1 can be missed.
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Some signs and symptoms of this stage include changes in:
. Facial expressions
In addition, a person may experience mild tremors on one side of the body. A doctor might prescribe medication at this stage that will help control the symptoms.
Tremors, trembling, and stiffness affect both sides of the body in stage 2 of the disease and are much more noticeable.
The increased stiffness is often enough to delay tasks. A person may find it difficult to maintain independent living, according to their age and other factors.
Walking, speech, and posture problems are often more noticeable in stage 2 of Parkinson’s.
Stage 3 or mid-stage Parkinson’s disease is characterized by an increase in symptoms. A person will experience most or all of the symptoms of stage 2, plus:
. Problems with balance
. Slow movements
. Slow reflexes
A person with stage 3 Parkinson’s must be aware of the increased likelihood of falling due to coordination issues. Dressing and other self-care tasks may become more difficult.
Treatment at this stage often involves both medication and occupational or physical therapy. Some people respond favorably to treatment, while others may not experience much improvement.
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During stage 4 Parkinson’s, daily activities may be challenging or even impossible. It is likely that a person will require some form of daily care, as independent living is not usually possible.
People at this stage may be able to stand on their own but may need a walker or other assistive device to walk.
Stage 5 is the last and most debilitating stage of Parkinson’s disease. A person will not be able to stand or move around due to stiffness. Depending on their age and health, they may be bedridden or use a wheelchair for mobility.
Unlike earlier stages, a person will need constant nursing aides. Aides will help the person do daily activities and prevent dangerous situations or accidents from occurring.
In stage 5, a person may also experience:
. Poor response to medication