What is Parkinson’s Dementia?

March 25, 2019

What is Parkinson's Dementia

People are familiar with the common symptoms of Parkinson’s, such as tremors and speech problems. But most people with this disease also develop Parkinson’s dementia. Learn more here.

With symptoms ranging from rigid muscles to speech problems, Parkinson’s disease (PD) is classified as a neurodegenerative disease. It happens when the body doesn’t produce enough dopamine, the chemical required to allow for smooth movements. Another challenge for an adult with PD and their family caregivers is Parkinson’s dementia.

Researchers say that between 50 and 80 percent of people with PD will eventually develop Parkinson’s dementia. Similar to other forms of dementia, it can present unique safety challenges for the person with the disease and for their caregivers.

What Is Parkinson’s Dementia?

Parkinson’s disease dementia results from a buildup of protein deposits, known as Lewy bodies, in the brain of a person with PD. The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease dementia are similar to other forms of dementia. They include:

  • Memory loss and forgetfulness
  • Sleep problems
  • Hallucinations and/or delusions
  • Difficulty carrying on a conversation
  • Loss of attention span
  • Anxiety and nervousness
  • Trouble managing finances
  • Irritable and quick to anger
  • Using words incorrectly
  • Poor judgment
  • Depression
  • Easily tearful and sad

How is Parkinson’s Disease Dementia Treated?

As is true with most forms of dementia, there is currently no cure. An older adult’s physician will usually create a care plan to manage each individual symptom of the disease.

For example, if a senior with PD dementia is experiencing sadness or clinical depression, they might be referred to a mental health professional for treatment. Or if the adult is having trouble with insomnia, a sleep disorder specialist might be consulted to help address it.

Senior Living to Assist Adults with PD

Because the average age of diagnosis for PD is 60, patients and their spouses are often leading active lives. The challenge of living with and caring for a person who has Parkinson’s disease dementia can be especially difficult.

Some families turn to an adult day program for daytime assistance. The adult with Parkinson’s dementia attends the center every day or a few times a week to socialize in a safe, supportive environment. This allows a spouse or adult child to continue to work.

Other families find an assisted living community to be a better solution. They may utilize the community’s short-term respite care services when the family caregiver needs a break or wants to enjoy a vacation. As their loved one’s needs increase, they might move to the community on a long-term basis. Because they’ve already built a relationship with the staff, the transition is a little easier to make.

If you are caring for a loved one with Parkinson’s dementia and you live in the southeast, we invite you to schedule an appointment at one of the Legacy Senior Living communities. We’ll be happy to answer your questions about respite care, assisted living, and memory care for adults with dementia. Call us today at (423) 478-8071 to set up a time!