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5 Stages of Parkinson’s Disease: Progression of Parkinson’s

It’s important to know about the 5 Parkinson’s disease stages so you can prepare for the future. Learn about the progression of Parkinson’s at HealthyPlace.

The Parkinson’s disease stages are well-known among doctors. If you are diagnosed with Parkinson's, it's important to be aware of these stages so you can prepare yourself and your family for the future. As the disease progresses, you may develop further needs or require full-time care. Find out everything you need to know about the five stages of Parkinson’s disease and the progression of Parkinson’s symptoms.

What Are the 5 Parkinson’s Disease Stages?

Parkinson's disease presents differently in everyone. However, Parkinson's is a neurological disorder which tends to follow a pattern of recognizable symptoms. This is known among doctors as the Hoehn and Yahr rating scale, which is broken down into five Parkinson’s disease stages. These marked stages will help your doctor evaluate your Parkinson’s disease progression.

Stage 1: Parkinson’s Disease Early Stages

Stage one is where most people are when they are diagnosed. This is the mildest form of Parkinson’s, where symptoms are often not marked enough for people to notice them in themselves. At this stage, family and friends may notice changes in your facial expressions, voice or the way you move. Tremors are a distinct symptom at this stage, particularly in the hands – though not everyone with stage one Parkinson’s experiences them.

Stage 2 of Parkinson’s Disease

Stage two usually marks a more moderate form of Parkinson’s disease. Stiffness, tremors and trembling may be more noticeable, and difficulty walking may interfere with your daily life. You should still be able to care for yourself at this stage, though you may start to experience speech difficulties and slow movement that can make life more difficult. Parkinson's medication can help combat these symptoms.

Stage 3 of Parkinson’s Disease

Stage three marks a turning point in the progression of Parkinson's. You may now experience loss of balance, change in posture and impaired reflexes. At this stage, medication combined with occupational therapy can help ease the symptoms, although trips and falls are more common after stage three.

Stage 4 of Parkinson’s Disease

When you reach stage four, you may struggle to live independently. Many people with stage four Parkinson’s have trouble walking and even standing without assistance. You can get movement devices and walkers to help you move around. However, living alone can be dangerous at this stage due to the risk of injury.

Stage 5 of Parkinson’s Disease

Stage five is the most advanced stage of the disease, where round-the-clock assistance is usually required. You may also experience psychological symptoms at this stage, such as confusion, hallucinations and delusions. It's important to note that Parkinson's on its own is not fatal. However, some of the later symptoms of Parkinson's disease – such as movement impairment and difficulty swallowing – can lead to life-threatening injuries.

One criticism of this scale is that it does not account for non-motor symptoms, such as sleep difficulties, mood disorders and loss of smell. For this reason, doctors do not rely on the five stages alone. They will perform a thorough analysis of your symptoms to determine how your disease is progressing.

Parkinson’s Disease: The Progression of Symptoms

Many patients wonder how long their disease will take to progress to stage five. The truth is that there is no way to predict individual progression. These five Parkinson’s disease stages are different for everyone. For some, it can take years to move from stage one to stage two; for others, the disease can progress in a matter of months. Your doctor should be happy to answer any questions you have relating to the progression of your symptoms, but you can also make use of online resources, such as the ones listed below.

article references

APA Reference
Smith, E. (2020, February 9). 5 Stages of Parkinson’s Disease: Progression of Parkinson’s, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, October 20 from https://www.healthyplace.com/parkinsons-disease/effects/5-stages-of-parkinsons-disease-progression-of-parkinsons

Last Updated: February 18, 2020

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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