One Surprising Thing You Should Know About Parkinson's Disease

This is a sponsored post in partnership with The Motherhood.

Mommy, why are Grandpa's hands so shaky?

As a child, I thought that all grandpas had hands that trembled. It was just part of who my Grandpa was. I would be so excited to see a letter arrive in the mailbox with his inimitable scrawled handwriting, knowing it was a special card just for me. It wasn't until I was a little older that I understood that his "shaky hands" were actually tremors caused by Parkinson's disease.

My grandfather was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease long before I was born. I never really thought much of it, because his symptoms were relatively mild and didn't keep him from living an incredibly full life. He lived on his own and kept riding his beloved horse well into his eighties.

Now that I am an adult, I've realized how lucky he was, as my uncle is now living with Parkinson's disease too. Unlike his father, my uncle's symptoms are far more obvious than Grandpa's tremors. It's difficult to see his struggle, but I know that my aunt and cousins are amazing care partners for him.

Now that Parkinson's disease has touched two of my family members, I'm trying to learn all that I can, in case it affects my mom, my siblings, or even myself. What I've learned is surprising, and goes far beyond shaking hands.

You may think you know about Parkinson's disease but this may surprise you. A must read for people with Parkinson's disease and their care partners. #ad #MoreThanMotor #moretoparkinsons #parkinsonsdisease

The Surprising Thing About Parkinson's Disease

Everyone knows that Parkinson's disease affects motor skills causing tremors, loss of balance, and difficulty with movement. But did you know that more than half of people living with Parkinson's will also experience a lesser known effect of the disease: hallucinations and delusions?

What exactly does this mean? When a person experiences hallucinations, they see, hear, or experience things that are not real. As this becomes more severe, people with Parkinson's disease may not be able to distinguish these hallucinations from reality.

Delusions are different. They are false beliefs not supported by evidence. In people living with Parkinson's disease these delusions are often centered around paranoia, such as believing that a longtime spouse is committing adultery or that someone is attempting to steal from them.

These symptoms are especially difficult to diagnose, because people often do not report them to their doctor.  They may not be aware that hallucinations or delusions are actually a part of their disease, and are too embarrassed to reveal that they are happening.

People with Parkinson's disease and their care partners need to understand that these symptoms need to be discussed before they worsen and cause further distress or problems.

A new survey by the PMDAlliance found that 90% of respondents reported that they (or their loved one) experienced non-movement symptoms associated with Parkinson's disease, and 84% of those agreed that these symptoms had a negative effect on quality of life. Read more about these symptoms and their impact here.

If you or someone you love is experiencing these symptoms, you are not alone. Your doctor may be able to help you, but only if you let them know what is happening. There are treatment options available, including an FDA-approved medication indicated for the treatment of hallucinations and delusions associated with Parkinson's disease.

Click here to learn more about this surprising aspect of Parkinson's disease, and please share this post to spread the word and help those living with PD (and the people who love them).

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