What Are the Stages of Parkinson’s Disease?

A SYNERGY HomeCare caregiver assists a senior in getting out of the car following an appointment.

Parkinson’s disease is the second-most common neurodegenerative disorder in America according to the Parkinson’s Foundation, with 90,000 new diagnoses each year. Plenty of major celebrities such as Michael J. Fox and Muhammad Ali have done an excellent job sharing their journeys and making the public aware of the disease. 

Thanks to the efforts of these celebrity ambassadors, most people understand that Parkinson’s disease is a long-term movement disorder. Symptoms like tremors and impaired balance are some of the most common and well-known symptoms, however, there are plenty of unique effects that appear as the disease progresses. 

If you or someone you know has recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, here’s what to expect as the condition progresses through the Stages of Parkinson’s Disease.

Stage 1

The earliest stage of a Parkinson’s diagnosis is typically where tremors begin. They’ll mainly affect one side of the body and can be accompanied by changes in gait, posture or facial expressions. These are relatively minor symptoms and can make it hard to notice the disease at first. 

Stage 2

In Stage 2, tremors begin to affect the entire body. They can create a sense of rigidity and have a noticeable impact on posture and mobility. While the diagnosis is certainly noticeable at this point, many people in Stage 2 can still perform most activities of daily living (ADLs) on their own, but it will be a little more difficult. 

Stage 3

In Stage 3, motor skills significantly worsen. This includes difficulty eating, drinking and performing other daily tasks. This stage also comes with a noticeable loss of balance, making falls a very real concern for a person living with Parkinson’s disease. 

Stage 4

Once a person reaches stage 4, their diagnosis is considered advanced. While moving around independently isn’t impossible yet, it is still greatly impaired. At this point, most ADLs require some outside assistance. 

Stage 5

Stage 5 is marked by the inability to walk or stand independently. Clients will likely need to rely on a wheelchair or other assistive device to move around. In Stage 5, a person can also begin to experience signs of dementia, such as hallucinations or increased irritability. 

While it may be hard to pinpoint exactly when you or a loved one begin to display signs of Parkinson’s disease, you can easily document a timeline using this outline once a formal diagnosis has been given. With a firm timeline in hand, you can provide your doctor with much more useful information to guide their treatment plan. 

With proper guidance and support, it’s entirely possible to maintain quality of life with a Parkinson’s diagnosis. Professional in-home care services like those provided by SYNERGY HomeCare can provide support to help alleviate a family caregiver’s stress. 


For more information on caring for a loved one, download SYNERGY HomeCare’s Sandwich Generation Family Caregiver Guide.

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