Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder that causes damage to the central nervous system. It can also cause a condition called Parkinson’s disease dementia. It is most often found in adults of at least 65 years.
The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease usually develop slowly. While they can vary from each patient, there are similarities. These can include shaking, tremors, still limbs, and mobility problems.
Early signs can be slight, like a change in their handwriting, where it becomes smaller and more cramped. There can be a loss of sense of smell, tremors in their voice, and stiff or altered facial expressions.
There can be other symptoms, as well, like sleep problems, changes in behavior, depression, mood swings, difficulty with eating, chewing, and swallowing, plus others.
Many of these signs can be slow to develop and thought to be a natural aspect of aging. This is why it is important to catch the signs early, as treatment will be much more effective.
Parkinson’s and Dementia
Parkinson’s disease is a movement disorder. However, there can be similar symptoms that resemble dementia. Memory loss or confusion may also be symptoms of Parkinson’s.
A patient with Parkinson’s can also find it difficult to talk, forget words, have trouble focusing, concentrating, and lack any kind of attention span. People may be slower to answer, react, or recall things.
Parkinson’s can also cause a condition called Parkinson’s disease dementia and affects thinking, reasoning, and problem-solving. Parkinson’s disease dementia will develop in at least half of all patients that develop Parkinson’s.
What Symptoms Should you Notice?
Parkinson’s disease dementia can show up in many forms. These can include:
● A change in appetite
● Changes in energy levels
● Forgetfulness and memory loss
● Inability to concentrate
● Mood swings
● Lack of interest
● Difficulty with speech
There can be variations of these symptoms, as well. Some patients can suffer hallucinations as a side effect of Parkinson’s and it can be confusing for the patient and the caregiver.
As the disease progresses, there will likely be more severe symptoms. The patient will likely require constant care, a wheelchair, and there can be complications from infection, injuries from falling, incontinence, pneumonia, insomnia, and issues with choking.
How Is Parkinson's Dementia Diagnosed?
It can be difficult to diagnose, as there is not a lot known about the disease. Your doctor will need to do a series of tests to determine if you have Parkinson’s disease dementia.
Parkinson’s disease can also be hard to diagnose. It is caused by decreased dopamine production in the brain. Without dopamine, it becomes very difficult for the brain to coordinate muscle movements.
The low dopamine levels also cause mood and cognitive problems later in the disease. Experts aren’t clear on what triggers the development of Parkinson’s disease most of the time, however, it is often inherited and is the result of certain gene defects.
No single test can identify it so it is often mistaken for other diseases or health conditions. In order to detect it, a healthcare professional will usually take a medical history, including a family history to find out if anyone else in your family has Parkinson's disease.
They will also do a neurological exam. Sometimes, an MRI or CT scan, or some other imaging scan of the brain can identify other problems or rule out other diseases.
Parkinson’s Dementia- Are There Different Forms?
Dementia can come in different forms and present different types of symptoms, however, the main ones are still prominent. Dementia with Lewy bodies is a condition that causes deposits of alpha-synuclein in a person’s brain.
Parkinson’s disease dementia has different symptoms from other types. The symptoms can be similar to those of Alzheimer’s disease. Parkinson’s disease dementia affects problem-solving, the speed at which thoughts occur, memory, and mood, and other important cognitive functions.
People who have dementia with Lewy bodies may also experience sleep disturbances and visual hallucinations. They might have an unsteady walking pattern.
There is yet no cure for Parkinson’s disease dementia. The focus is to help reduce the symptoms and to provide a good quality of life. The disease advances quickly, particularly with those of advanced age.
The disease robs people of their ability to live independently, communicate, remember, and concentrate. Medications may be prescribed to help people sleep, enhance moods, or slow the effects of cognitive decline.
People will need to be under constant care, likely in a memory care home. Routine helps keep people safe and can help prevent mood swings or behavioral outbursts.
Life expectancy is slightly shortened for people with Parkinson’s, however, the life expectancy is shortened greatly for those with Parkinson’s dementia. Even though dementia has a big impact on the survival rate, these can be extended with medications, treatments, and support.
The sooner these diseases are diagnosed, the better chance of treatment and slowing the disease’s impact on the patient.
A small Residential Care Home like Light Heart Memory Care is able to give someone with this disease the extra care and attention they need.
Light Heart Memory Care homes are specially designed for 8 residents. This gives us the ability to give personalized care to each and every resident.
In honor of our founder Pat Mack, we are carrying on the tradition of caring for our residents in
"The Light Heart Way"