Caregiver's Home Companion Caring for someone who has trouble hearing the phone?
 SEARCH Go
Read Fred's Previous Articles

April 6, 2012
Question for Aging Men: Will Testosterone Spark Virility?


March 30, 2012
Is Dad Still Road-Worthy – Or Is It Time to Take the Keys?


March 23, 2012
Coping and Recovering from Knee Replacement


March 16, 2012
Lactose Intolerance May Not Spell Osteoporosis


Take Our PollThe Caregiver's Marketplace

Shop Now in the
Caregiver's e-Mall

Our Caregiver's e-Mall is filling up with great stores and a growing number of items just in time for the holidays. Whether you browse and find a book or tape to help you with caregiving, or come across a wonderful gift for a friend or family member, the e-Mall can be your source for easy shopping and gift-giving.

So, click on the dark blue Caregiver's e-Mall buttons throughout our site and enter a comfortable, secure shopping experience with major merchants while avoiding the hassle of having to find a parking place or matching your shopping hours with someone else's. Our mall is just a click away and is open 24 hours every day.

Watch for additional stores opening in the e-Mall soon!

Posted: February 27, 2009

Keeping Seniors Healthy

Parkinson's Among Farmers May Be More Than Coincidence

Q. I sure don’t know much about Parkinson’s disease, but I live in a rural area and have been told from more than a few people that farmers are more likely to get Parkinson’s. Is that true?

A. Although genetics is very important in Parkinson’s disease (PD), many researchers believe that environmental exposures also increase a person's risk of developing the neurological disease. There are studies that show that farmers and other agricultural workers have an increased risk of getting PD.

Parkinson’s was first described in 1817 by Dr. James Parkinson, a British physician. It affects 1 in 100 people over the age of 60. It can also affect younger people. The average age of onset is 60. Research suggests that PD affects at least 500,000 people in the United States.

PD is a complex disorder of the central nervous system. It is the second most common neurodegenerative disease in the United States, after Alzheimer's disease. Unfortunately, there is no known cure.

The defining symptoms of PD include tremor, slowness of movement, rigidity, and impaired balance and coordination. As these symptoms become more pronounced, patients may have difficulty walking, talking, or completing simple tasks. They also may experience depression, difficulty sleeping and other problems.

The progression of symptoms in Parkinson’s may take 20 years or more. In some people, however, the disease progresses much more quickly.

In the early 1960s, scientists determined that the loss of brain cells was causing PD. The cells that were depleted produced dopamine, a chemical that helps control muscle activity. Today, Parkinson’s is treated with drugs and surgery.

Medications for PD fall into three categories.The first includes drugs that increase the level of dopamine in the brain. The second category affects neurotransmitters in the body to ease some of the symptoms of the disease. The third category includes medications that help control the non-motor symptoms of the disease such as depression.

There are two commonly used surgical treatments for PD: pallidotomy and deep brain stimulation. Because these procedures are invasive, they are usually reserved for severely afflicted Parkinson's patients who do not get adequate relief from medications.

Surgeons discovered that, by removing or destroying parts of the brain that were “misfiring,” some of the symptoms of PD could be alleviated. One of these operations is pallidotomy.

Scientists have found that they can mimic the effects of pallidotomy by deep brain stimulation (DBS). With DBS, an electrode is implanted in the brain in a way that calms the abnormal neuronal firing. DBS is now the primary surgical intervention for Parkinson’s.

A wide range of complementary and supportive therapies may be used for Parkinson’s. Among these therapies are standard rehabilitation techniques, which can help with problems such as gait and voice disorders, tremors and rigidity, and cognitive decline. Exercise may help people improve their mobility.

While Parkinson’s is a complex disease, research has progressed a great deal in recent years. Halting the progression of PD, restoring lost function, and even preventing the disease are now considered realistic goals.


Fred Cicetti is a freelance writer who specializes in health. He has been writing professionally since 1963. Before he began freelancing, he was a reporter and columnist for three daily newspapers in New Jersey. He has written two published novels: Saltwater Taffy, and Local Angles. You can send your health-related questions to Fred at fred@healthygeezer.com.

© 2009 Pederson Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Commercial use, redistribution or other forms of reuse of this information is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission of Pederson Publishing.
Search CaregiversHome
Find with keyword(s):

Enter a keyword or phrase to search CaregiversHome's archives for related news topics, the latest news stories, timely times, and reference articles.

Email or share this story Bookmark and Share

Back to Top


Discount Prescription Card

Free Survival Guide

Privacy Statement Contact Us Site Map Products & Services Our Partners Advertise
© Copyright 2003-2019. Pederson Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved.