Has your family recently found out that a parent or loved one might have Parkinson’s disease? Parkinson’s disease can be difficult to accurately diagnosis, often because its symptoms, which vary widely from person to person, mimic those of so many other diseases. Compounding this issue is the fact there is currently no standard diagnostic test for the disease. Our Denver Parkinson’s caregivers share some information about the general diagnostic process to help families better understand why a certain opinion was provided by a loved one’s doctor.
When Parkinson’s Symptoms Are Present
Typically, if your loved one’s doctor suspects Parkinson’s disease, he or she will refer the patient to a neurologist. The symptoms that lead to this suspicion usually include tremors, slow movements, and stiff muscles. If your loved one is experiencing these signs, the first step is to find a neurologist, preferably one who specializes in Parkinson’s disease.
Current Diagnostic Protocol
Since there is no existing diagnostic test, the specialist will first take a thorough medical history and perform a neurological exam to observe the symptoms your family member is experiencing. This test looks for stiffness of muscles, difficulty rising from a chair, mobility issues, frozen facial expression, and other hallmarks of Parkinson’s. The doctor will also seek to rule out conditions with similar manifestation, such as stroke.
One test, known as DaTscan, allows neurologists to observe the dopamine system of the brain. Because Parkinson’s is caused by an absence of dopamine, this test can be used to confirm the doctor’s diagnosis. However, DaTscan is not considered to be an effective diagnosis of the disease when used alone.
Confirming a Diagnosis
If Parkinson’s is suspected, many doctors will start patients on medications to treat symptoms of the disease; responsiveness to these prescriptions is typically considered a confirmation of the diagnosis. Because the disease is so difficult to diagnose (especially in the early stages), you may consider getting a second opinion if your loved one has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s.
For more information about caring for a senior loved one with Parkinson’s, reach out to Home Care Assistance Denver, CO. We are a trusted, local provider of senior in-home care, offering trained caregivers, flexible care schedules, and a 100% satisfaction guarantee with all care services. Call us today at 720-443-3371 to request your complimentary, no-obligation consultation.