What Leads to Parkinson’s Disease in Older Adults?

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Parkinson’s follows Alzheimer’s as one of the leading degenerative neurological disorders that affect the elderly. More than one million seniors in the United States live with varying stages of the disease. Scientists haven’t determined why dopamine-producing neurons in the substantia nigra begin dying, which leads to Parkinson’s symptoms. However, there are a number of factors believed to contribute to the condition’s development.

Age

The natural aging process makes older adults more susceptible to developing a number of medical conditions, including Parkinson’s. Approximately 95 percent of Parkinson’s cases are diagnosed in adults older than 60. The risk factor increases after seniors reach 85 years of age. Getting older cannot be prevented, but living a healthier life may substantially reduce the risk. 

If your loved one has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, he or she may get a great deal of benefit from having a professional caregiver help with everyday tasks. Families looking for top-rated elder care providers can reach out to Home Care Assistance. From respite care to specialized Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care, there are many ways we can make life easier for seniors and their loved ones.

Gender

Statistics indicate that men are 1.5 times more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease. Researchers theorize that women may have a greater degree of protection due to higher levels of estrogen. Men are also more likely to experience head injuries or be exposed to environmental toxins in the workplace.

Genetics

Seniors may have an inherited gene mutation that leads to an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s. Statistics suggest that between 15 and 25 percent of older adults with Parkinson’s have at least one immediate family member who is or was also afflicted by the disease. Different mutations have been associated with the neurological disorder. Some increase the risk that a senior might develop the disease. However, having one of the genetic mutations doesn’t guarantee an older adult will develop Parkinson’s. A combination of factors may increase the risk. 

Seniors in the later stages of Parkinson’s can live at home, but they’ll likely need assistance from a family member or other caregiver to do so safely. For many seniors in Coral Gables, FL, live-in care is an essential component of aging in place safely and comfortably. However, it’s important for them to have caregivers they can trust and rely on. At Home Care Assistance, we extensively screen all of our live-in and 24-hour caregivers and only hire those who have experience in the senior home care industry. Our strict requirements ensure seniors can remain in the comfort of home with a reduced risk of injury or serious illness.

Ethnic Background

Parkinson’s disease is more common in Caucasian seniors than in older adults whose ethnicity is African American or Asian. Seniors of European descent are much more likely to develop the disease. However, Hispanic seniors have a greater risk than any other ethnic group. Statistics indicate that among aging adults, nearly 17 percent of Hispanics, 14 percent of Caucasians, 11 percent of Asians, and 10 percent of African Americans have Parkinson’s.

Head Injuries

People who incur injuries to the head, neck, or upper spinal region have an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s. The reason for the correlation isn’t clearly understood, but injuries to these areas may leave the brain weakened and more susceptible to the disease.

Environmental Toxins

Chronic exposure to various toxins in both rural and urban areas may increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s. Although people who live in rural regions and are employed in agriculture are often exposed to pesticides, the incidence of the disorder remains higher in older adults living in cities. A number of chemical compounds are suspected to increase an individual’s overall risk of developing a neurological disease later in life. These toxins include Agent Orange, fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides. In factory settings, lead, manganese, trichloroethylene, and similar heavy metals and chemicals are suspected risk factors.

Caring for a senior loved one can be challenging for families who don’t have expertise or professional training in home care, but this challenge doesn’t have to be faced alone. Family caregivers can turn to Coral Gables Home Care Assistance for the help they need. We provide high-quality live-in and respite care as well as comprehensive Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care. To schedule a free in-home consultation, give us a call at 1 (305) 964-5636 today.