Huntington’s Disease is a genetically transmitted disorder that is known for its progressive decline in motor functioning. This inherited condition causes the nerve cells in the brain to break down over time. Unfortunately, there is no cure for this disease. Someone who has Huntington’s disease will go through various stages of decline. Symptoms will range from depression and irritability to becoming totally dependent on others for everything.
During the first stage of decline the individual will experience subtle changes. A person will experience problems with coordination and involuntary movements. A person may seem more irritable and depressed. The first signs of cognitive difficulties may appear in the form of difficulty thinking through problems.
Once the disease progresses to the middle stage, the movement disorder may become more of a problem. The individual will need assistance with daily living activities. Daily challenges include diminished speech and difficulty swallowing. During this stage the person will experience a further decline in cognitive functioning as the abilities to think and reason clearly become impaired.
During the final stage a person with Huntington’s will become totally dependent on others for everything. Their ability to walk and talk are gone. Even though a person’s cognitive functioning is significantly impaired to qualify as having some form of dementia, they still have the ability to comprehend language and recognize family and friends.
As mentioned earlier there is no cure for Huntington’s Disease. It is a fatal disorder that deteriorates a person’s physical and mental abilities during their prime working years. The Huntington’s Disease Society of America has developed a nationwide network that includes Chapters, Affiliates, HDSA Centers of Excellence, Support Groups and Social Workers that are ready to assist caregivers and anyone who is suffering from this disorder.