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Parkinson’s Disease and the Loss of Smell

By Erik Gans, 8:00 am on

When providing senior home care for a loved one with Parkinson’s disease (PD), it can feel overwhelming as the range of symptoms begin to present themselves and become a part of everyday life. While some symptoms, such as uncontrollable shaking and cognitive effects, are touched on frequently in doctor appointments, others are sometimes overlooked. The loss of smell often associated with PD, for example, may go unnoticed by a caregiver, but an understanding of the symptom can be valuable to the caregiving process.

As a leading provider of Parkinson’s care in Fairfield, we wanted to share some information on the loss of smell and its impact on those with Parkinson’s as well as risks that may arise as a result. This way, family caregivers will be able to better plan for the future and ensure safety, comfort and quality of life for their aging parent or loved one.

The loss of smell in people with PD is sometimes considered an early symptom of the condition, appearing before affected movements make a diagnosis clear. No definitive explanation exists as to why the loss of smell (also referred to as hyposmia) develops. Some research, however, suggests that a certain protein present in patients with PD may be involved, depending on where it is located.

When a loved one experiences a loss of smell, it can affect his or her quality of life. For instance, the sense of smell contributes to how people taste food. Thus, your loved one may not be able to enjoy or taste food the same as before PD. This can affect appetite and make it difficult for your loved one to attain the appropriate amounts of vitamins and nutrients, or a healthy weight.

The inability to detect odors can also play a role in making safe choices. Hyposmia can interfere with detecting odors in the air that could be the only alert to a gas leak or other unsafe environmental hazard. Someone with the lack of smell may also inadvertently ingest something that could affect physical wellbeing, simply because they are unable to identify what are normally clear indications that the product is unsafe.

Since hyposmia can limit a loved one’s ability to remain safe at home, it is important that the caregiver realize when the symptom has developed. Special consideration may be needed when preparing meals, and evaluations of the immediate environment will play a major role in providing effective care.

If you are unable to monitor your loved one as his or her symptoms become more complex, reach out to Home Care Assistance of Fairfield today. Along with live-in and overnight care, we also offer hourly care in Fairfield which can be a great way to supplement a family caregiving schedule and ensure continuity of care at all times. For more information or to request a complimentary, no-obligation consultation, call 203-955-1915.