Contemplating the realities associated with the conclusion of life can be a formidable undertaking. The uncertainties, fears, and challenges that lie ahead can feel overwhelming. Yet, understanding what may come as Parkinson’s disease progresses is a crucial step in preparing oneself and loved ones for what will come ahead.

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is not just a condition but a progressive journey where symptoms may start subtly, perhaps unnoticed, but gradually, they begin to affect every aspect of daily life. Movement becomes a struggle, stiffness sets in, and tremors disrupt the simplest tasks. However, Parkinson’s is not just about physical symptoms. It can also bring forth many non-motor symptoms like fatigue, depression, and pain, adding layers of complexity to an already challenging condition.

The natural progression of the disease varies from person to person. Some may experience a gradual decline, while others face rapid deterioration. Understanding this variability is crucial because it shapes the path toward the inevitable end. While Parkinson’s itself may not be directly fatal, the complications it brings can significantly increase the risk of mortality. Factors such as cognitive decline, hallucinations, and advanced motor disability are all associated with a higher likelihood of passing.

end stage parkinson's

The Road to End-Stage Parkinson’s Disease

When facing this disease, there comes a point where the symptoms become more than just inconvenient but debilitating. This is what is referred to as end-stage Parkinson’s disease. At stage four, patients may find themselves reliant on assistance for even the most basic movements. Walking, standing, and performing simple daily life tasks become monumental challenges.

Stage five marks the final leg of this demanding journey. Severe posture issues emerge, often confining patients to wheelchairs or even beds. However, it is not just the physical symptoms that weigh heavily. Non-motor symptoms such as incontinence, insomnia, and dementia can further complicate matters. Medications intended to alleviate symptoms may provoke secondary effects and inadvertently contribute to hallucinations, particularly if dementia is also present.

Incidence of Parkinson’s in the U.S.

  • Nearly one million people in the United States are currently living with Parkinson’s disease
  • The incidence is expected to increase to 1.2 million by 2030
  • PD is the second-most common neurodegenerative disease, following Alzheimer’s disease

  • Roughly 90,000 people are diagnosed with PD annually

  • Globally, more than 10 million people are living with the disease

  • An estimated 4% of individuals with PD are diagnosed before age 50

  • Men are 1.5 times more likely to develop Parkinson’s than women

end stage parkinson's

Dying from Parkinson’s Disease

Advanced PD can lead to falls, pressure ulcers, swallowing difficulties, and general frailty, which are all linked to death. To deal with such situations, one can consider Hospice care as their end-of-life care option.

As the journey nears its end, the complexities of care become more challenging. Hospice care, with its focus on comfort and quality of life, can be a vital support system. Recognizing when it is time for hospice can be challenging, but specific indicators (such as declining mobility, speech impairment, and the inability to perform daily activities without assistance) signal the need to consider this option.

Hospice eligibility for Parkinson’s disease encompasses a range of factors, from difficulty breathing to complications such as pneumonia or ulcers. Once the required criteria are met, your healthcare provider can make the referral, and the transition to hospice care should be smooth. Hospice provides medical support and emotional and spiritual guidance, ensuring patients and their families are enveloped in compassionate care during this challenging time.

Empowering End-of-Life Decisions

In the face of such daunting circumstances, it is essential to empower patients to express their end-of-life wishes. Creating advance directives and establishing a durable power of attorney can ensure that healthcare decisions align with individual preferences, providing a sense of control in the face of uncertainty.

Compassionate Care, Every Step of the Way

At Ascend Hospice Care, we understand the complexities of providing end-of-life care for Parkinson’s patients. Our dedicated team of professionals is committed to delivering compassionate support every step of the way.

Facing the end of life is never easy, but with the proper support and resources, it can be a journey marked by dignity, comfort, and peace. Let us be a part of your care team and walk alongside you on this path, offering the care and compassion you deserve.

Request hospice care

The staff will try to accommodate your request and call at the specified time.
ascend logo

Your hospice partner

We understand that the decision to transition towards end-of-life therapy needs to be taken with utmost care, that’s why we created this helpful blog.