More than 5,000 Canadians are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD) each year, according to UCB Canada. The majority of people with this condition have what’s called primary or idiopathic parkinsonism. This is one of two broad ways of classifying Parkinson’s disease. The other type of Parkinson’s is secondary parkinsonism. Continue reading to learn more about these two types of Parkinson’s disease.
Sometimes called “classic Parkinson’s,” primary parkinsonism is what 80–85 percent of people with this condition have. It’s the type of PD usually caused, in part, by abnormally low levels of a brain chemical known as dopamine, which helps with the transmission of nerve signals.
For this reason, primary parkinsonism (also referred to as idiopathic parkinsonism) often responds well to medications that take the place of dopamine. Levodopa is widely considered the most effective medication used for this purpose. Symptoms associated with classic PD include:
• Tremors and muscular stiffness
• Daytime sleepiness because of difficulty sleeping through the night
• Difficulty with speech and swallowing
• Confusion, especially during evening hours
Many seniors in the early stages of Parkinson’s are able to live on their own, but they may need a bit of help with everyday activities, such as exercising and preparing nutritious meals. Aging adults who require assistance with the tasks of daily living can benefit from reliable at-home care. Families trust Home Care Assistance to provide the high-quality care their elderly loved ones need and deserve. Our caregivers are trained to help seniors prevent and manage serious illnesses and encourage them to make healthier decisions as they age.
The other type of Parkinson’s disease is referred to as secondary parkinsonism. With primary parkinsonism, the specific causes of the related symptoms may not be known. However, with the secondary form of PD, a source is usually identified.
Sometimes referred to as “Parkinson’s plus,” since there’s typically a secondary reason for the symptoms, this type of Parkinson’s isn’t likely to respond well to dopamine substitutes. The symptoms experienced are usually similar to those commonly seen with classic PD, which can present some challenges when attempting to make a diagnosis. Secondary forms of parkinsonism include:
• Drug-induced PD plus – In this secondary form of parkinsonism, medication triggers tremors and other symptoms. A decrease in symptoms is usually noticed once certain drugs are no longer used.
• Progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) – This common type of secondary parkinsonism is very similar to primary parkinsonism, except symptoms tend to progress rapidly. PSP is caused by the excessive accumulation of tau proteins in the brain.
• Cerebrovascular disease/vascular parkinsonism – Small strokes trigger this type of PD by damaging parts of the brain. Motor symptoms are usually relegated to the lower half of the body. Older adults and individuals with diabetes are more likely to develop this secondary type of PD.
• Normal pressure hydrocephalus – An accumulation of spinal fluid causes this type of secondary PD. Treatment typically involves a lumbar puncture to redirect spinal fluid.
Living with a serious health condition can make it challenging for seniors to age in place. However, they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional live-in care. Vancouver seniors can benefit from assistance with meal prep, bathing, transportation to the doctor’s office, medication reminders, and much more.
Corticobasal degeneration (CBD) is another form of secondary parkinsonism related to the buildup of tau proteins. Symptoms usually develop on one side of the body before moving to other areas. If the levels of a protein called alpha-synuclein are too high, multiple system atrophy becomes the secondary condition contributing to PD symptoms, which often progress rapidly. Seniors with Parkinson’s could also be affected by other secondary issues, some of which include:
• Exposure to certain toxins
• Dementia with Lewy bodies
• Parkinson’s disease psychosis
Caring for a loved one with Parkinson’s can be extremely challenging, and a compassionate professional caregiver can be a wonderful source of support. If your elderly loved one is living with a serious medical condition and needs help managing the tasks of daily living, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a Vancouver elder care agency you can trust. Our caregivers are available 24/7, there are no hidden fees in our contracts, and we offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee on all of our in-home care services. Trust your loved one’s care to the professionals at Home Care Assistance. Reach out to one of our compassionate Care Managers today at (778) 279-3634.