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The Relationship Between Parkinson’s and Dementia

By Lee Nyberg, 9:00 am on

Though caregivers of seniors with Parkinson’s are familiar with the disease, there may still be confusion surrounding the link between PD and dementia. Dementia, or the severe decline in memory function, is a common problem for seniors with advanced PD, but not everyone understands why. Lincoln Home Care Assistance can offer some clarification regarding the connection between dementia and Parkinson’s disease, in addition to possible treatments.

Parkinson’s Facts

The average age of onset for Parkinson’s is 60 years old. Should it occur in people before age 50, it’s known as early-onset Parkinson’s. It is seen more frequently in older people and in men. Unfortunately, the disease is chronic, meaning it won’t go away with time. In fact, it almost always worsens, making it a progressive disease. Symptoms are caused by a decrease in the brain’s production of dopamine, a neurochemical that coordinates muscle movement. The cause of Parkinson’s disease is unknown, though some experts believe that it may be genetic.

Dementia and Parkinson’s Disease

The most recognizable symptom of Parkinson’s disease is muscle rigidity that makes walking and mobility difficult. Tremors are also seen frequently in people with PD, and cognitive issues can develop later as the disease progresses. As symptoms begin to worsen, changes in memory, concentration, and focus may also occur. Dementia often appears 10-15 years after diagnosis as a senior’s cognitive function declines. This memory loss can cause problems with the ability to communicate verbally, inhibit problem solving skills and abstract reasoning, reduce your loved one’s attention span, and hinder his or her ability to relate to other people.

Possible Treatments

Those with Parkinson’s-related dementia will require assistance with everyday living in order to maintain a safe lifestyle. Drugs used for Alzheimer’s patients may offer some benefits for seniors with PD. Deep brain stimulation, a technique that uses electrical impulses to control muscle tremors, can also be helpful. It’s important to remember that a PD diagnosis is not guaranteed to lead to dementia, however, the progression of the condition can lead to related cognitive symptoms.

For some seniors, additional companionship and individualized care can help improve Parkinson’s and dementia symptoms. At Home Care Assistance of Lincoln, we use a holistic approach called the Balanced Cared Method to promote overall health through diet, exercise, and regular socialization, and help seniors maintain a strong sense of calm and purpose. In addition to ourParkinson’s home care in Lincoln, we also provide local stroke, Alzheimer’s, and respite care for seniors. To learn more about how our care services could benefit your loved one, please call 402.261.5158 and talk to a compassionate Care Manager today.