Tuesday, 07 May 2019 10:01

How is Parkinson’s Related to Dementia??

Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder. It's a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. It develops gradually, usually starting with barely noticeable hand tremors. About 50 – 80% of people with Parkinson’s develop Parkinson’s disease dementia, but the dementia symptoms usually several years to appear. parkinsonstages2 01 1

Typical Parkinson’s symptoms include:

  • Tremors
  • Stiffness
  • Slow movement
  • Face showing little or no expression
  • Soft or slurred speech
  • Arms that don’t swing when walking

Parkinson’s disease dementia has symptoms similar to those found in Lewy body dementia so it can sometimes be tough to diagnose.

But according to the Alzheimer’s Association, someone has Parkinson’s disease dementia if they were originally diagnosed with Parkinson’s (based on movement symptoms) and their dementia symptoms didn’t appear until a year or more later.

Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease dementia and cognitive impairment include:

  • Loss of decision-making ability
  • Inflexibility in adapting to changes
  • Disorientation in familiar surroundings
  • Problems learning new material
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Loss of short- and long-term memory
  • Difficulty putting a sequence of events in the correct order
  • Problems using and understanding complex language

There are other causes of dementia-like symptoms in Parkinson’s disease. Dementia isn’t the only reason for someone with Parkinson’s to have dementia-like symptoms. They could also be caused by mental disorders, treatable conditions, or medication side effects.

Common mental disorders in Parkinson’s disease could also cause dementia-like symptoms, including:

  • Depression –  sadness, tearfulness, fatigue, withdrawal, loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, sleeping too much or too little, weight gain or loss
  • Anxiety – excessive worry or fear that disrupts everyday activities or relationships, restlessness, extreme fatigue, muscle tension, sleeping problems
  • Psychosis – inability to think realistically, hallucinations, delusions (believing in things that are untrue), paranoia (suspicious and feeling controlled by others), and problems with thinking clearly

Parkinson’s disease is tough to live with, both for the person affected and their family. Support groups are filled with people who are going through very similar experiences. They’re a great place to safely vent frustrations, get new ideas for how to cope or solve problems, and learn about helpful resources. Ruby Pardue Blackburn has an online support group through Facebook called Diamonds of Dementia. We welcome new members, check it out!


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