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Later Stages of Parkinson’s

It’s impossible not to think about the later stages of Parkinson’s when someone you love has the disease. I’ve always preferred to look the problem straight in the eyes, even when it hurts to do so.

And watching the progression of my dad’s Parkinson’s is no different for me. I realize that not everyone feels this way, and it may be helpful to warn you that we’re going to take a look at some of the scariest parts of Parkinson’s in this article. Be sure to slow down or stop reading if it causes you distress.

My dad does extraordinarily well for himself on a day-to-day basis, but what happens when his body begins to experience further changes? When will my role begin to change in relation to the disease? And how do we best support him as he battles this horrible disease? I recently did a bit of research to seek some answers to those types of questions.

What to expect

According to experts, Parkinson’s has 5 stages. Stage 1 usually is indicative of mild symptoms. It’s possible to experience some changes to the body’s movement, gait, and expression.1

Stage 2 begins to impact the entire body instead of 1 side of it. Many of the early symptoms continue to progress, which can cause delays in simple household tasks.1

Stage 3, where I believe my dad is right now, allows our people with Parkinson's (PWP) to maintain independence but it begins to significantly hamper their lifestyle. For my dad, this looks like more slowness. And depending on the day, his medications, and how he’s feeling, he may experience more difficulty with tasks like eating.1

During the fourth stage of Parkinson’s disease, symptoms become more limiting. The impacted person may have difficulty standing. Issues with balance may begin to pose a serious threat. And many PWP begin to use walking devices like canes or walkers at this point.1

The 5th stage is the final stage, when it’s possible to experience severe posture issues. Many PWP begin to use a wheelchair to support basic mobility. And it’s during this stage when some cognitive symptoms become particularly apparent.1

What can we do as it progresses

I’m prepared for the reality that my parents may need help when Dad reaches the late stages of Parkinson’s disease.

Recently, my cousin (who works as a nurse) informed me that there are programs designed to accommodate these types of changes. Visiting Angels is one such organization, and they’ve been known to provide in-home care. Since nursing homes aren’t right for everyone, it’s comforting to know that there may be additional options for providing care when dad needs extra help.2

Depending on the types of resources that you require, the cost to care for a loved one with Parkinson’s can vary. Visiting Angels offers hourly care, overnight care, and 24-hour care.2

Considering the options

I’m hoping that we’re still a long ways away from having to carefully consider late stages of Parkinson’s care. But part of me wants to know what the options look like. Will I have to move home when the time comes?

Is it possible to provide care for your loved one without compromising your own well-being? I think that it is, and I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to keep my dad safe and comfortable for as long as possible.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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