Parkinson's Dementia

Parkinson’s Dementia is a progressive brain disorder that affects nearly 1.5 million Americans and it is estimated that 20% of people who suffer from Parkinson’s disease will eventually develop Parkinson’s Dementia within 10 to 15 years after their initial diagnosis.

Parkinson’s Dementia is caused by a loss of neurons in a region of the brain that negatively affects the ability to properly employ adept motor skills. Though it is not a specific disease by itself, it is a term used to describe a collection of symptoms that can be caused by a number of disorders that affect the brain.Though Parkinson’s Dementia is a less common feature of Parkinson’s disease, those who develop it will experience hallucinations and more severe motor control problems.

Causes of Parkinson’s Dementia

There are several causes for dementia in those who have Parkinson’s disease. Agitation, delusions, language difficulties and early onset of memory symptoms are signs that the dementia may be caused by something other than Parkinson’s disease. If a patient has these symptoms, doctors may test for Vitamin B-12 deficiency or an underactive thyroid gland. Depression is also a common factor in those who have Parkinson’s disease and is often be mistaken for dementia as it produces similar symptoms.

Symptoms of Parkinson’s Dementia

  • Memory problems
  • Distractibility
  • Slowed thinking
  • Disorientation
  • Confusion
  • Moodiness
  • Lack of motivation
  • Hallucinations

Diagnosis

Diagnosing people who have Parkinson’s dementia is similar to diagnosing them with Parkinson’s disease. Once definitively diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, patients will go through a series of neuropsychological testing, which is the best way to measure cognitive decline. The tests will address the patient’s appearance, mood, anxiety level and experience of delusions or hallucinations. In addition, an elderly person over the age of 85 with Parkinson’s disease may develop Alzheimer’s disease or Alzheimer’s dementia as well. Both diseases are common in the elderly and have similar symptoms. Therefore, it may be necessary to see multiple doctors or neurologists to obtain a definitive diagnosis.

Help and Treatment

There isn’t a cure for Parkinson’s dementia, nor is there a cure for Parkinson’s disease. The goal of treatment is to focus on treating specific symptoms such as depression, anxiety or hallucinations. There are medications that can relieve the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and Parkinson’s dementia. Levodopa and a combination of Levodopa with Carbidopa are common medications. Levodopa is used to treat stiffness, tremors, spasms and poor muscle control of Parkinson’s disease. Stalevo is also a common medication used to treat poor muscle control. Dopamine agonists are sometimes prescribed as well as COMT inhibitors such as Tasmar. Tasmar is given to those with Parkinson’s disease and is used when other medications have worn off.

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