10 Early Signs of Parkinson’s Disease To Spot In Your Parents Before It’s Jialat

10 Early Signs of Parkinson’s Disease To Spot In Your Parents Before It’s Jialat

6 min read

Parkinson's Disease signs include constipation, tremors, sleep troubles, and more.

I was walking home with my kaki the other day when I noticed his kaki (leg) moving strangely. He was moving in small, shuffling steps – as if his feet were stuck to the ground. Concerned and pek chek ’cause he was slowing us down, I told him to get them checked lah. After all, shuffling steps is one of the early signs of Parkinson's Disease.

Since Parkinson's Disease (PD) slowly gets more jialat over time, here are its early signs so that you can see whether it’s also time for your parents to get checked.

1. Movement troubles like Liang Po Po

Parkinson’s Disease movement troubles

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As my friend now knows, having trouble walking is an early sign of PD. As the disease worsens, one’s balance is thrown off-centre, macam trying to stand on one leg in a moving bus. That’s why you’ll notice that a lot of people with PD shuffle their feet and move really slowly.

But bo bian, since we can’t blame them, let’s help them by bringing them out for regular exercise. It’s also best to buy a high-quality cane or walker to prevent them from falling down.

2. Small handwriting until need microscope

Parkinson’s Disease small handwriting

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Compare your parents’ handwriting now vs the one in their love letters years ago. If their current one is so small until you need 10x optical zoom to see, your parents might have micrographia where one’s writing gets progressively smaller due to their bodies not getting the full signal from the brain.

Since this will affect their legal papers, get their lawyers to document the changes in their handwriting, should they need to update their wills or even visit the bank.

3. Tremors, and not the earthquake kind

time boundaries to help with wfh stress

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70% of those with PD experience have what’s called a “resting tremor”. Your parents can kena this tremor when they are nua-ing, and it’ll only subside when they move. 

For example, their hand could be shaking when it’s still or trying to hold a cup of kopi. Once they wave bye bye, however, you might notice that the shaking lessens. Imagine your parents getting them while they’re doing everyday things like shaving, writing or driving, and you’ll see why they’re one of the most mafan signs of PD.

4. Constipation until spend more time in toilet than with family

Parkinson’s Disease constipation

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We’ve all suffered from constipation before. However, if your parents go number two fewer than three times a week, it’s time to get them checked. Constipation often starts before the motor signs of PD develop, as the changes in the brain stiffens the digestive system’s muscles.

To solve this, give your parents more fibre and water. In more extreme cases, a mild laxative can help but make sure you don’t give so much until they lao sai.

5. Speech and swallowing problems

Parkinson’s Disease speech and swallowing problems

PD eventually affects the muscles in one’s body. Once the throat and mouth muscles are affected, your parents will have difficulty swallowing and speaking. While this makes them nag less, it’ll also make them dehydrated and malnourished.

As such, visit a neurologist to get medication or an endoscopy referral. In the meantime, tell those with speech difficulties to pause a lot more, take deep breaths, and avoid shouting.

6. Loss of smell (not COVID, pls)

Parkinson’s Disease loss of smell

It’s super scary if your parents lose their sense of smell these days. If it’s not due to COVID-19, it means it’s an early sign of PD liao.

A good way to see if your parents’ loss of smell is serious is to check if they can still smell strong foods such as durian and bananas.

7. Sleep troubles until shag like siao

Parkinson’s Disease sleep troubles

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PD can also alter one’s sleeping pattern, which is why 75% of those with it have sleep troubles. These include difficulty sleeping, sleep talking, and leg jerking. Eh sian, they apply to me liao.

Anyway, to minimise these impacts, tell your parents to avoid stimulants such as caffeine and alcohol. Medications such as Mirtazapine can help alleviate their sleep troubles.

8. Masked face, not Masked Rider hor

Parkinson’s Disease masked face

I usually have a stoned face ’cause I’m sian of driving Grab for so long. But hor, someone else might have facial masking – a condition where one has less facial expressions due to stiff facial muscles.

The same medication to treat motor problems can be used for facial masking. If your parents need further help, get a referral to a speech-language pathologist who can then recommend a few exercises to do.

9. Dizziness like a night at Clarke Quay

Parkinson’s Disease dizziness

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PD can result in a body’s inability to raise blood pressure. As a result, your parents will get dizzy more often which will undoubtedly affect their everyday life. 

A doctor might recommend cutting certain medications such as anti-hypertensives. On your end, you could also raise their blood pressure in a slow and stable way by making them wear compression garments or eat more carbs. Or you can just make them angry (just kidding!).

10. Stooping

Parkinson’s Disease dizziness

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PD can cause your parents’ brains to “forget” to stand straight. Coupled with muscle stiffness, this makes them naturally hunch forward – resulting in a bad posture and eventually, back pain and the inability to take deep breaths.

To remedy this, you can buy lumbar rolls for their seats, sign them up for yoga or tai chi, or consult a physical therapist.

Detecting the early signs of Parkinson’s Disease

Although Parkinson’s Disease can’t be completely cured, your parents can still live a fulfilling life by minimising its impact. The best way to do so is to detect all of its early signs and seek treatment before they worsen.

For more tips to combat other ailments, check out our other articles on insomnia and vision problems.

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