For celebrated athlete Muhammad Ali, the fight of his life took place outside of a boxing ring. The man who once floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee waged a battle with Parkinson’s disease for more than 30 years until recently passing away from an unrelated infection that may have been exacerbated by PD. Ali’s struggle with Parkinson’s is an example of the toll the disease can take as it progresses.
Early Signs of Parkinson’s
At first, Ali’s doctor attributed that fact that the boxer was sometimes tripping over things, shuffling while he walked, and having some difficulty with his speech to a prior viral infection. Ali did, however, present what’s considered classic early signs of PD, which typically include:
• Shaking in one limb
• Abnormal facial expressions
• Poor posture and lack of balance
Ali experienced side effects from the medication he was taking, the most visible of which was the slow, rigid movements observed when he lit the Olympic torch in 1996. Some patients experience additional complications from the disease itself, including:
• Difficulty swallowing
• Problems sleeping
Gradual Progression and Decline
There are five stages of Parkinson’s disease, although symptoms don’t always follow a logical order. At one point, Ali’s tremors lessened in severity, which was attributed to the levodopa he was taking to control his symptoms. For some people with PD, shaking may stop altogether during later stages of the disease for unknown reasons. In later years, Ali was largely confined to a wheelchair and reportedly unable to speak.
According to Annapolis home care professionals, about a million people in the United States are living with Parkinson’s disease. Approximately 15-20 percent of PD patients have a relative with the condition, lending support to previous research suggesting a genetic link to Parkinson’s. Brain injuries Ali sustained while boxing may have been partially responsible for the early appearance of the disease.
Find out how you can help a senior loved one with Parkinson’s remain safe and comfortable at home by reaching out to Home Care Assistance. Our trusted Parkinson’s care in Annapolis helps seniors with PD maintain their dignity and independence and ensure they have the support needed to accomplish everyday tasks like bathing, cooking, and cleaning. Give us a call at 443-302-2771 and schedule a free in-home consultation today.