5 Stages of Parkinson’s Disease

When people see a picture of Michael J. Fox, I believe they automatically think of Parkinson’s Disease.  He is the one person who we associate with this disease because he is so well known and has been so vigilant in sharing his story.

Let’s take a look at the stages of this disease. According to ParkinsonsDisease.net there are 5 stages that are accepted by physicians around the world when they “classify patients for research studies” and that is the Hoehn and Yahr Scale.

Stage 1:  * Unilateral involvement (one side of the body)  * Difficult to diagnosis as there may not be enough symptoms for accurate diagnosis * Minimal or no functional impairment  * First symptoms might be rigidity or tremors  *Every person’s situation is unique

Stage 2:  *Bilateral involvement  * May develop months or years after Stage 1  * Loss of facial expression  * Speech abnormalities  * Soft voice  * Muscle stiffness and rigidity  * Stooped posture   *Slowness in completing ADLs (Activities of Daily Living)  * Still considered early stage development

Stage 3:  *Mid-stage of the disease  *Loss of balance leading to potential falls  * Slow moving  * Still able to complete ADLs independently

Stage 4:  * Progressed to severely debilitating disease * No longer able to live alone  * Will need walker for mobility  

Stage 5:  * Most advanced stage  * Unable to function on own  * Needs total assistance with ADLs  * May stumble or freeze when walking  * May experience hallucinations or delusions.

ParkinsonsDisease.net also reinforces that every individual will progress at their own speed and some will never experience Stage 5. Not all Parkinson’s patients will experience all of the above symptoms.

The Alzheimer’s Association indicates in their informational material that 60 – 80% of Parkinson’s patients will develop Parkinsonian dementia  several years after diagnosis.


This is a brief summary of the 5 stages.  If you would like more detailed information go to https://parkinsonsdisease.net/basics/stges/ or The Michael J. Fox Foundation at www.michaeljfox.org.


Photo Credit: Michael J. Fox Foundation

Read More
About DCPutnam
  1. DCPutnam says

    “What is the time frame between stages one and five with Parkinson’s disease? Is there any consistency with the progression of the disease? I’m not familiar with Parkinson’s disease.”

    David Creamer

    (Written to my FB page)

    • DCPutnam says

      David –
      According to the article Parkinson’s is very much like Alzheimer’s in that every person’s situation is unique. However, some people develop mild forms of the disease while others develop more severe responses.

      The Michael J. Fox Foundation states: “Most doctors say that Parkinson’s disease itself is not fatal. You die with Parkinson’s disease, not from it. However, as symptoms worsen they can cause incidents that result in death.”

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.