“Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are gradual and they’re very subtle.”

—Melissa Batchelor, PhD, RN, FNP, FGSA, FAAN

What is Parkinson’s disease dementia? How does it manifest differently from other forms of dementia? Join me in this insightful episode where we answer these questions and discuss more of its symptoms and available medication.

WHAT IS PARKINSON’S DISEASE?

Parkinson’s Disease is a progressive disorder affecting individuals over 50, characterized by motor issues such as muscle stiffness, tremors, and balance problems. As it advances, cognitive issues known as Parkinson’s disease dementia may emerge about ten years after the initial diagnosis.

RELATIONSHIP OF PARKINSON’S DISEASE TO LEWY BODIES

Parkinson’s disease is caused by abnormal protein deposits called Lewy bodies, leading to chemical changes and eventually dementia symptoms like difficulty concentrating or hallucinations. While people with Parkinson’s dementia and Lewy body dementia share clinical features, there are key distinctions. In Parkinson’s disease, dementia develops after experiencing movement issues, whereas those with Lewy body dementia first experience cognitive changes and later develop motor problems.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are gradual and subtle. They usually appear around ten years after the initial diagnosis, focusing more on movement issues than cognitive changes. In severe cases, symptoms may involve REM sleep disorders, causing a person to physically act out dreams or experience hallucinations.

HOW IS PARKINSON’S DISEASE DEMENTIA DIFFERENT THAN ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE?

While both are forms of dementia, they impact our memory differently. Alzheimer’s typically hinders the creation and storage of new memories, while Parkinson’s dementia can lead to problems with both short and long-term memory loss.

CAUSES AND MEDICATIONS

The potential causes of Parkinson’s disease dementia are linked to the buildup of a protein called alpha-synuclein in the brain. This leads to the formation of clumps that contribute to the death of neurons or nerve cells.

While there is still no cure for Parkinson’s disease dementia, medications are available to manage symptoms and enhance the individual’s quality of life.

RESOURCES

The Parkinson’s Foundation at https://www.parkinson.org/understanding-parkinsons has information about understanding Parkinson’s disease, strategies for living with Parkinson’s as well as other resources and support if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with this disease and are experiencing changes in your memory.

Download the 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease: https://melissabphd.com/10warningsigns/

Download the checklist for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia: https://melissabphd.com/diagnosischecklist/

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About Melissa:

Melissa Batchelor, PhD, RN, FNP, FGSA, FAAN. I am a nurse, nurse practitioner, nurse educator and nurse researcher with over 25 years of experience in the aging and long-term care healthcare space. You can visit my website at MelissaBPhD.com to learn more about me, how you can work with me directly,
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