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A senior man lovingly holding his wife's hand who is living with Parkinson's.

Diagnosing Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s Disease was discovered in 1817, over 200 years ago. As the disease evolved, so has treatments and hope for those living with it. While some indviduals believe that Parkinson's is an ''old person's disease", it is not. Advocate and Actor Michael J. Fox was diagnosed in 1991 at the age of 29. 

Diagnosing Parkinson's disease isn't simple. Doctors look for four cardinal features of the movement disorder using the mnemonic TRAP:

  • Tremor or shaking at rest, involving the thumb, entire hand, arm, chin, lips, and feet
  • Rigidity felt by the doctor when rotating a patient's wrist or elbow
  • Akinesia or bradykinesia (lack of movement or slowness of movement) when walking or swinging an arm
  • Postural instability, making it necessary to hold onto something to maintain balance when walking or rising from a chair

While the typcial symptoms of tremors or shaking are used as the basis for a diagnosis, the condition involves much more less-obvious symptoms that include sleep problems, constipation, slurred speech, and mood problems such as depression which vary from one patient to the next.

Living with Parkinson's has it's challenges, with that said, finding the proper care and treatment plan is essential. 

A  MedicAlert ID and membership can be part of your treatment.

What is MedicAlert?  It’s not just a medical ID. MedicAlert is peace of mind, knowing that your loved one with Parkinson's, MedicAlert Foundation has their back – and yours. With a MedicAlert ID and membership, your loved one’s medical history and emergency information is stored, safe and secure, in their MedicAlert profile.

How does it work? Emergency response teams are trained to look for a MedicAlert ID. Should your loved one have an emergency, accessing the MedicAlert ID number on the member’s bracelet, necklace or tag will connect first responders to MedicAlert’s 24/7 MedicAlert Emergency Response Team. In an emergency, they will relay your loved one’s complete medical history and list of emergency contacts, providing first responders with a detailed health record and action plan.