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Understanding the Relationship Between Parkinson’s and Dopamine

There are more than 1.5 million people in the United States over the age of 40 who have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. The disease gradually progresses and affects neurons located deep within the brain that regulate and control a number of functions, including movement. Though the cause of disease is unknown, we now know that the destructive process that occurs in the nerve cells also depletes an important neurotransmitter known as dopamine. Sacramento Home Care Assistance explains how dopamine works and its relationship with Parkinson’s disease.

Neurons send and receive messages to one another, not unlike electrical currents that pass through wiring. Branched appendages called dendrites extend from each neuron and act like antennae, which are responsible for sending and receiving the transmissions to the main axon (nerve cell). Neurotransmitters, namely dopamine, ensure that these impulses successfully cross the gaps, or synapses, from one neuron to another by acting as a kind of bridge.

When a neuron receives an impulse, it travels to the dendrite that releases dopamine into the synapse, which allows the impulse to cross to the next dendrite. Once the impulse completes, receptors at the ends of the appendages reabsorb the chemical. Additional chemicals clean the synapse by breaking down and removing any remaining dopamine in preparation for the next impulse. 

Dopamine is necessary for the impulses that control smooth muscle movement. When the dopaminergic neurons suffer damage or die, communication between neurons becomes impaired. Dopamine may then be in short supply, excessively broken down and reabsorbed. Visible symptoms associated with this damage include slowed movement, decreased dexterity, tremors, muscle stiffness and a loss of balance. Upon diagnosis, seniors with Parkinson’s commonly receive prescription dopamine in order to supplement natural supplies and block the breakdown and reabsorption of the chemical. 

The symptoms associated with Parkinson’s can be challenging for seniors to face alone, but with the help of Parkinson’s home care in Sacramento, your loved one can get the assistance he or she needs. Compassionate caregivers with Home Care Assistance provide mobility assistance, medication reminders, and safety monitoring in addition to helping with a wide range of everyday responsibilities. To schedule your complimentary consultation, call 916.706.0169 and speak with a friendly Care Manager today.