End Stages of Parkinson’s Disease

In most newly diagnosed Parkinson’s patients, the anxiety revolves around the effect that the disease will have on daily functioning. However it should be noted that most Parkinson’s patients can quite comfortably manage with daily activities although there may be some level of difficulty. The symptoms in the initial stages of Parkinson’s disease may be mild, but in the last two stages of the disease or the “end stages”, the symptoms become such that the person becomes totally unable to function without help.

Stage 4 of Parkinson’s Disease

In this stage, the main difficulty is in maintaining balance and posture, so patients need assistance while standing and walking. Increase in tremor, rigidity (increased tone) and bradykinesia (slowness of movement) as the disease progresses make the performance of routine tasks difficult without help. Falls tend to occur more often. The patient is mobile at this stage but needs help to carry on with their daily tasks.

Stage 5 of Parkinson’s Disease

At this stage of the disease, the patient is unable to stand or walk and constant nursing care is needed as they cannot function independently. A number of patients also suffer from dementia, depression or hallucinations, which further aggravates the situation.

Features of the End Stages of Parkinson’s

The end stages of Parkinson’s disease can be extremely difficult and heart-breaking, both for the patient and his close relatives and friends.

  • There is progressive worsening of symptoms despite of drug therapy.
  • Tremor increases gradually, and in the later stages there may be action tremor (like an essential tremor) whereas initially there was tremor only at rest, thus making performance of routine tasks difficult.
  • Unsteadiness in walking or turning, resulting in falls, become more pronounced as the disease progresses and ultimately the patient can only stand or walk with help, while in the end stage he becomes completely bedridden.
  • Dementia and depression occur in a large number of patients of Parkinson’s disease towards the end stages of the disease and anxiety, mood changes and insomnia may be an associated symptom.
  • Dysphagia or difficulty in swallowing often leads to less intake of food and nutrients, causing weight loss, weakness and tiredness.
  • Constipation is often troublesome and may be a side effect of anticholinergic treatment.
  • Recurrent infections occur such as pneumonia.
  • Improper bladder control may lead to urgency and frequency.
  • Hypersalivation or drooling is common due to difficulty in swallowing and may lead to choking.
  • Memory loss – both recent and long term.
  • Confusion and hallucinations become more pronounced in elderly patients being treated with anticholinergics.
  • Pain and discomfort in the lower part of the body and limbs.
  • There is progressive difficulty in speech with slow, soft, monotonous voice and the patient may have problem finding words.
  • There may be dyspnea or difficulty in breathing.

In the end stages, the patient becomes totally helpless and cannot survive without a care-giver. They are unable to sit, talk, walk, turn around in bed, control bladder or bowel movements, or conduct any bodily function on their own. Combined with their gradually declining health status, both physical and mental, the end stage leads to death ultimately. Unfortunately, there are no medicines yet that can cure Parkinson’s disease but  only help to alleviate the symptoms or delay progression of the disease.

20 Comments

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  7. My husband was diagnosed approx. 10 years ago with Parkinsons; however, he has never shown the classic “tremor” synptom. He has been on Leva-dopa for years. Approximately 2 1/2 years ago he began having balance problems/falling, urinary incontinence, hallucinations, became quite aggressive and was diagnosed with dementia. As symptoms progressed he was diagnosed as psychotic.
    Five months ago a neurologist refined the dementia to lewy body with ALS symptoms.

    His legs are contracting and he is wearing braces almost constantly. My question: please explain the contractions. When I ask I am told
    “it is simply a progression of the illness”.

    Thank you.

  8. My father aged 79 suffering from Parkinsonism for the past 6 months. now totally bedridden due to the difficulty in swallowing.Now maintining in bed with home nurse with the control of my mother. Totally in depression- the whole family.

  9. my aunt is in the last stages of parkinsons. been in last stages at least a year.how long to you think she will live like this.she has had parkinsons 13 yrs.

    • my friend has parkinsons and was diagnosed 10 years ago and is stage 5. she sleeps 23 hours a day…very little nourishment and yet when she does recognize us and is able to respond with a word or two, it is like she is feeling great. she has 24 hour nursing. As far as how long she will live….some days it feels like she may go anytime….and other days she will look at us and say I’m still here. Doctor says could do this many more years.

  10. The lady I have cared for since she was 83 is now 91.90 was the down ward spiral.She can no longer feed her self .Has to be turned every 2 hours .We have 24 hour care .At times she swallows ok .Then others she is so out of it we give her baby food yogurt .Soft foods only.Thicken liquids only .She can be coma tos one day neon the next Dementia and haucinations are also there .No pain thank God but its like watching someone die alittle each day .

  11. Michael From Revivalbootcamp

    Thanks for the very informative post. Parkinson’s disease is terrible and the best one can and should do for their loved one is to give their very best when they have the chance.

  12. My Mother is showing the “End” stages of this mean disease. She is 85 and has had this for 10 years. Thanks to my brothers and sisters, she has company every day. I live in Des Moines IA. It is very hard to think of her living away from my Dad. She has a poor quality of life. My God take her home soon.

  13. I have Parkinson’s. I find simple tasks very difficult now. Many days I long to die. My situation is complicated by lymphedema in my left leg. Mostly I am tired.

  14. my husband is 85 and is at the end stages of Parkinson. He can not do a thing for himself. Could not take care of him and had to put him in a nursing home where is well care for . It is heart braking to see him like this and like you I pray to God. Is there a support group somewhere ?

  15. The end stages are horrific!!! My father had Parkinson’s for 20 years!! He had the Tremors very bad.. He did great up until 3 years ago he became light headed, and had repeated falls!! His memory became worse!! His brain in march 3 years ago looked fair by the end of April he was constantly falling sat in a daze!! He knew he was dying he told me his time was near!! When the scanned his brain in April half his brain was gone!! He fell again in July and never got out of his bed again!! He could not speak good!! But his mi d was clear but his body was shutting down. He lived 3 weeks in pure Hell!! We watched him suffer trying to get air his throat was closing up!! He lost so much weight I am truly thankful for Hospice the are true Angels.. My son and I cared for him 24 hours a day!! I was beside him when he finally passed!! Thank God no o e dresser Es to suffer in such a painful death.. It will be three years this July he passed and the horror of watching him suffer never leaves my mind!! He wanted to die at home, if I should ever get this horrible disease I do not wa t my children to have to watch me suffer till I pass it’s not fair for them!! May you all find peace

    • Thank you….I am going through this horrible time watching my poor grandfather deteriorate before my eyes. I lost my grandmother in Feb. she had all her faculties but her health was poor. I know she tried hanging on hoping he would go first. I was asked to be there POA. & i agreed with honor. I hope the dear lord takes my nono
      soon & peacefully. He has fallen 3 times this month in the nursing home. Once getting 9 staples & now with such a skin tear abrasion. His swallowing is declining & his mind in & out. I sit there with tears in my eyes because I feel hopeless. I am in the diagnostic field and have a decent medical background but honestly I am lost for words. Thank you to all the passionate & loving people in the world. Every time you share your experience it soothes someone else’s heart. xo

  16. My husband of 23.5 yrs just passed on from progressive Parkinsons.
    He was 64 yrs of age and was diagnosed 8 yrs ago.
    In the past year, I left my job to take care of my husband around
    the clock.
    He stayed at home with palliative care assistance in the last days.
    I am struggling hard,… thinking of the past months, days….hours.
    I read the comments above and feel for everyone anquishing.
    Keep your faith in God.

  17. I have Parkinson’s disease and reading these story’s makes my decision easier. I was diagnosed with PD 13 years ago at the age of 39. I saw my mother suffer with alzheimer’s Disease and to see the disease progress to the point where she didn’t eat or remember anyone and was almost unrecognizable because of this. So, when my time come to that point. I will get in my car and close the garage, put the car on and put Marvin Gaye on the radio and say good bye.

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