My mother is an 81-year-old PinnacleCare member with a Parkinson’s disease diagnosis. Last fall, she experienced changes in her mental status and memory that caused our family much concern. Her PinnacleCare health advisors took notice as well, and arranged for an MRI of her brain, which none of her doctors had ordered.

If it wasn’t for PinnacleCare finding my mother the right specialists and surgeons, and pushing the system to do further evaluation, her condition may have progressed to a life-threatening situation

The results of the MRI indicated that my mother had Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (NPH), which means she had fluid on her brain that was creating pressure. The pressure was affecting her cognitive mental state, walking ability and other bodily functions, symptoms that are similar to those of Parkinson’s disease.

Given these new MRI results, her doctors kept her in the hospital for four days to drain the fluid in her brain, and we saw a great deal of improvement that lasted for several weeks.

My mother then had shunt surgery. Her doctors inserted a valve into her brain and a tube under her skin that drew fluid off her brain at a regulated pace into her stomach in order to relieve the pressure.

Three months after the surgery, my wife and a PinnacleCare health advisor accompanied my mother to a medical review. She’d had significant improvement with her walking, memory, urinary function and cognitive ability. There were also signs she’d have even more improvement with time. In fact, while it is not definite, there’s a good chance that my mother didn’t have Parkinson’s disease at all. Because the symptoms are so similar to those of Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus, she may have only ever had NPH; and her Parkinson’s medication may have treated some of its symptoms as well.

Now after my mother’s six-month review, her physicians are considering taking her off Parkinson’s disease medication. This news is quite uplifting, as this means she might avoid a progressively debilitating disease for one that can be controlled well through treatment.

If it wasn’t for PinnacleCare finding my mother the right specialists and surgeons, and pushing the system to do further evaluation, her condition may have progressed to a life-threatening situation. But more importantly, if it wasn’t for her involved and caring family, she might have lived like so many other older individuals, whose medical condition simply deteriorates due to the lack of attention, the right diagnosis and the right treatment.

More: Eldercare View All