Blog Hero

Is Parkinson’s a Disability?

Schedule a Visit
An older adult holding his hand to prevent his tremors spilling the rice from his spoon.

The motor symptoms individuals with Parkinson’s may experience can affect various aspects of their daily routine. Due to the progression of Parkinson’s, there may come a time when your loved one is unable to safely live independently and will require full-time assistance with tasks associated with daily living.

The diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease alone does not necessarily make this neurodegenerative condition a disability. The individual stage of Parkinson’s is what helps to determine whether Parkinson’s is a disability. Advanced Parkinson’s is considered a disability, while early-stage Parkinson’s is not. 

The support and guidance that memory care offers to families can help you navigate through the unique set of challenges you may experience as a caregiver to your loved one with Parkinson’s. Our team at Bellevue Village at Woodstock is here to guide families to understanding Parkinson’s disease and disability. 

Understanding Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that primarily affects a person’s mobility. The 4 main symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include: 

  • Body tremors
  • Muscle stiffness 
  • Slow movement
  • Impaired balance and coordination 

Parkinson’s disease can lead to non-motor symptoms such as depression, cognitive changes, and difficulty swallowing and chewing. These symptoms may vary depending on the stage of Parkinson’s disease. Not everyone experiences these symptoms to the same degree. 

There may come a time when some individuals with Parkinson’s may develop Parkinson’s dementia. This may lead to further cognitive impairment, such as memory loss, difficulty communicating, and social isolation.  

Since Parkinson’s disease primarily affects mobility, there may be times when an individual cannot easily accomplish tasks associated with daily living. 

There is currently no cure for Parkinson’s disease. However, treatments are available to help manage symptoms and slow the progression. 

How Does Parkinson’s Disease Impact Daily Living

Parkinson’s may impact an individual’s daily standard of living primarily because of decreased mobility. Depending on the stage of their progression, they may require extra time and the support of tools to continue doing their daily activities. 

There may be days when your loved one will benefit from using a cane, a walker, or a wheelchair to maintain mobility and balance. However, your loved one should still remain active by doing light physical activities such as chores around the house. 

Tools are a great resource for individuals with Parkinson’s to continue their daily activities. For example, an extra set of handrails in the bathroom helps maintain balance and support while bathing or sitting up and down. 

An older adult holding onto a hand rail to prevent them from falling.

Dressing tools like a button hook, dressing stick, or sock aid can help your loved one continue to dress independently. Adaptive cutting boards in the kitchen allow your loved one to prepare meals safely, and swivel utensils help prevent spills while eating. 

Creating a spacious home environment for your loved one can help reduce the risk of falls or injury. This can be done by creating an open floor plan, having handrails and wall support, and having wide hallway spaces that allow walking aids to comfortably move throughout the house. 

Overall, we encourage individuals to take their time and use tools to help create an accessible routine that can allow them to maintain a sense of independence. However, there may come a time when the progression of your loved one Parkinon’s will require them to have full-time care and support. 

Understanding Disability

A disability is a physical or mental condition that significantly impacts an individual’s activities of daily living. This can include an individual’s ability to see, hear, speak, walk, perform manual tasks, learn, and work. 

To benefit from disability assistance, the Social Security Administration (SSA)  requires that you demonstrate that your loved one is unable to work due to the progression of Parkinson’s disease. Suppose your loved one is experiencing Parkinson’s dementia and is unable to work due to the progression of their cognitive impairment. In that case, similarly, they are also able to apply for social assistance.

Qualifying for Disability with Parkinson’s Disease

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) recognizes individuals with advanced-stage Parkinson’s disease who cannot conduct daily care activities. Due to the nature of Parkinson’s, not every person diagnosed with the disease will meet this standard. To qualify for disability benefits, individuals with Parkinson’s must demonstrate how the disease restricts their ability to work effectively and safely. 

A diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease alone is not enough to receive disability assistance. Your application must demonstrate both medical and non-medical evidence that your loved one is unable to work due to the progression of their illness. Your loved one’s application is more likely to qualify if their Parkinson’s has reached mid or late-stage symptoms

Medical documentation can include health records, treatments, and medicine your loved one may be taking to help slow the progression of Parkinson’s. Non-medical evidence includes personal accounts from families, loved ones, and even staff from memory care that can attest to your loved one’s inability to work and safely live independently. 

The application process may seem daunting, but breaking these steps down helps to make it more manageable. Here’s an overview of what caregivers may expect during the filing:

  • Gathering the appropriate documentation: This includes medical history, diagnoses, treatments, and first-hand reports of how Parkinson’s affects your loved ones’ daily standard of living.
  • Completing the application: The actual application for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) includes personal information, work history, and an overview of the impact of the medical condition.
  • Waiting for a decision: Once submitted, the application is reviewed, and a decision is made based on the severity of the condition and its impact on the individual’s ability to work.
  • Appealing if necessary: If the initial application is denied, there is a structured process for appeals, including reconsideration and administrative hearings. 

To help make this process less overwhelming, consider contacting a disability lawyer.  

Connect With Us 

Many individuals with Parkinson’s can continue to safely live independently for years with the help of tools to make their daily activities of living easier. Depending on the stage of progression of your loved one’s Parkinson’s, they may not qualify for disability assistance. The process of filing a case for your loved one may feel complicated. Not every aspect of their memory care has to be.

Our team at Bellevue Village at Woodstock is curated to help guide families through this difficult period. Contact our team to schedule a visit to learn how memory care can benefit your loved one! 

Written by Angela Clark

More Articles By Angela Clark
instagram facebook facebook2 pinterest twitter google-plus google linkedin2 yelp youtube phone location calendar share2 link star-full star star-half chevron-right chevron-left chevron-down chevron-up envelope fax