Woman with Parkinson's Disease talking and crutches against couch

5 Stages of Parkinsons Disease

Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological movement disorder, caused by a loss of a chemical called dopamine. There are 5 key stages of Parkinson’s Disease that people will generally go through.  As it’s a progressive life-changing condition, it most often can lead to difficulties in daily life.  Over time, an increased level of care and support becomes essential.

The main symptoms of Parkinson’s include:

  • shaking and tremors which cannot be controlled
  • slowed movement
  • stiffness and rigidity
  • balance difficulties

There are 5 main stages of disease progression, and a scale called the Hoehn and Yahr scale is commonly used to evaluate a patient to determine what stage they are at based on their symptoms:


Stages of Parkinson’s Disease

Stage 1 – Mild Symptoms

This is usually mild symptoms involving movement: tremors, rigidity, slowness in the limbs or on one side of the body.  This stage does not interrupt the person too much but other people may notice a change in facial expression.

Stage 2 – Movement Issues on Both Sides

In stage two the movement issues usually affect both sides – walking and poor posture are more noticeable.  People can still live independently although things will become more difficult to manage.  When the balance begins to become impaired the person needs to be monitored.  It is usually assessed by the ‘pull-test’ which demonstrates how the person can recover from being put off balance.

Stage 3 – Balance Issues More Prevalent

Balance really becomes an issue for the person with Parkinson’s therefore they may be prone to falls.  People can still manage to be independent and cope with dressing and eating at this stage.

Stage 4 – Severe Symptoms and Daily Living Becomes Difficult

The symptoms will be very severe and the person will need assistance with daily activities of living.  They should be able to stand at this stage, but it is not advisable for them to be on their own.

Stage 5 – Severe Motor and Cognitive Symptoms 

By stage five the person will have tremendous difficulty with walking and standing.  They will need a wheelchair to move around and will be unable to live alone.  By this stage not only will they have severe motor symptoms but they may also experience hallucinations and have delusions.


Home Care Can Help Parkinson’s Sufferers

The good news is that being looked after in a safe home surrounding, supported by experienced carers can help people diagnosed with the disease maintain a comfortable, fulfilling quality of life.  Our carers fully understand the challenges faced when caring for a loved one with Parkinson’s and have experience including their own family members with this disease.

As some symptoms of Parkinson’s such as anxiety reduce with routine, we ensure continuity of care and introduce the support team of carers that are will be involved as care needs evolve with the progression of this disease.

Click here to Parkinson’s Ireland for support information on Parkinson’s Disease or get in touch if you would like some advice.

Home carer talking with elderly man with Parkinson's disease