What Causes Parkinson’s?

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Researchers don’t yet fully understand the causes of Parkinson’s disease. However, most believe the disorder is caused by a number of interrelated factors, ranging from genetic predisposition to environmental exposure. Ahead, learn about the potential causes of Parkinson’s disease.

Old Age

Old age is the most important risk factor for Parkinson’s. Though the aging process affects each individual differently, cellular damage is a common result of age. When age-related cellular events combine with changing gene expression, it can increase the likelihood of Parkinson’s. While seniors can’t turn back time, they can make healthy lifestyle choices—from following a brain-healthy diet to getting regular exercise—that stave off cellular degeneration.

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 elderly home 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.

Environmental Factors

Exposure to certain toxins and substances can increase the risk of Parkinson’s. Studies suggest long-term exposure to pesticides and fungicides may be a risk factor. Agent Orange, the chemical used during the Vietnam War as a tactical herbicide, has also been linked to the development of Parkinson’s. Exposure to chemicals such as lead, manganese, and TCE may also be detrimental. Many people are exposed to harmful chemicals unwittingly due to where they live or work. While harmful exposure to toxins may not be reversible, seniors who know they’ve been exposed should limit future exposure and mitigate the damage via healthy living.

Genetics

Many researchers believe there’s a genetic component to Parkinson’s. According to current estimates, about 10 to 30 percent of Parkinson’s risk is related to genetic factors. Several Parkinson’s genes have been identified, including SNCA, PRKN, and GBA. While these causal genes increase the likelihood of Parkinson’s, the presence of these genes isn’t a guarantee of developing the disease. Because the disease is caused by a complex web of factors, these genetic mutations must combine with other factors, such as age, environment, and biological changes, before Parkinson’s can develop.

Injuries

Head trauma has been linked to the development of Parkinson’s later in life. Injuries that lead to loss of consciousness or pronounced forgetfulness can make the brain more susceptible to Parkinson’s. Seniors are more likely than other age groups to slip and fall around the house, which can lead to serious injuries. To prevent accidents, seniors should implement safety measures throughout their living environments. Common ideas include installing grab bars in bathrooms, clearing walkways of clutter, and increasing visibility with high-wattage light bulbs.

Seniors in the later stages of Parkinson’s can live at home, but they may need assistance from a family member or other caregiver to do so safely. For many seniors in Fort Myers, 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.

Potential Factors

Parkinson’s researchers can’t fully explain what causes the disease, but they understand what happens to the brain when it develops. Clumps of Lewy bodies form in specific brain regions. These clumps contain alpha-synuclein protein, a natural protein that can no longer be broken down by brain cells once it starts to clump. This abnormality damages the brain, and the dopamine-producing cells start to die. Dopamine is an important messenger that regulates feelings of pleasure, and when the body no longer has a sufficient supply, the symptoms of Parkinson’s start to emerge. Researchers are investigating a range of factors that may contribute to this process, such as gut health, inflammation, and cellular stress.

Early diagnosis is critical because Parkinson’s disease can be particularly challenging in its final stages, and family caregivers can easily get overwhelmed. 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 Fort Myers 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. Reach out to us at Home Care Assistance if you need compassionate, professional home care for your loved one. Call one of our friendly Care Managers today at 239.449.4701.