Are you in the process of navigating what it means to have Parkinson’s disease or dementia? Whether you’re the child of, caretaker of, or are someone living with Parkinson’s dementia, one thing is always true—the best way to identify or treat this disease is to understand it. The signs of Parkinson’s disease are related to cognitive deterioration. This means that over time, you or your loved one could experience tremors, fatigue, instability, slowed movement, and more. The rate of decline associated with Parkinson’s disease can differ greatly from one person to another.
12 Most Common Symptoms of Parkinson’s Dementia
Bradykinesia or “slow movement” is one of the most common symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Not only that, but your patient or loved one may not be able to blink, change their facial expression, or use fine motor skills as well as before. You can tell if they have trouble writing or turning over in bed.
2. Vocal Variations
It’s one of the least talked-about symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, but if you or someone you know was diagnosed with this disease, your voice can experience changes too. It could fade as you speak, or not project and emote well. As the disease progresses, this sign or symptom can morph into stuttering or crowded speech.
3. Poor Posture
If you’re a dementia caregiver, it’s important to be aware that your family member may start to encounter symptoms of Parkinson’s disease such as poor posture. Your loved one will have a tough time staying upright and on their feet as their Parkinson’s dementia worsens. Their balance becomes so weak that even a slight push could cause them to stumble, misstep, or fall backward.
Be very cautious when helping your loved one with Parkinson’s up after sitting or lying down. This disease makes it difficult for the body to regulate blood pressure, causing lightheadedness. Make sure they’re hydrated and not moved too suddenly to help prevent them from blacking out or fainting.
Body tremors can start with just your hand or leg shaking when you are resting. After a while, you may discover severe signs of Parkinson’s dementia such as tremors that affect both sides of your body, or even your jaw, tongue, and chin. Some people have experienced internal tremors amongst their other symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
Many people worry about the thought of having Parkinson’s disease when they notice tremors in their hands or legs, but the two conditions are different in the way that the tremors occur. For people with Parkinson’s disease, tremors are most prominent when your hands are resting at your sides or on your lap. On the other hand, essential tremors usually occur in the hands while you are using your hands – such as picking up a pencil.
6. Difficulty Sleeping
Although insomnia is an ordinary symptom of Parkinson’s disease, it’s more common for a family member with this type of dementia to have difficulty staying asleep. Vivid dreams may cause our loved one to wake up in the middle of the night. However, the latter could be actually related to the medication being taken instead.
Unfortunately, if your loved one has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease dementia, they’re also at risk for melanoma. Melanoma is considered the most serious type of skin cancer, so keep them safe with annual visits to a dermatologist to get an exam and address any skin lesions.
8. Eye Problems
Parkinson’s dementia can limit how much the eye moves and blinks. Blinking slows from 16 or 18 times per minute to just 1 or 2 times! This symptom can cause chronic dry eye and irritation that may require lubrication drops for alleviation.
Not all symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are physical—depression and anxiety are widely reported. While they can get better over time with disease-centered treatment or medication, they’re often coupled with psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy.
10. Urinary Problems
Your loved one with Parkinson’s dementia could be suffering from an almost constant and urgent need to urinate—even if their bladder isn’t full. This may be at its worst when they’re lying down at night. In addition to this, they may also experience slow, inconsistent urination and bladder overflow (leakage).
Does your mom or dad appear to move slowly or look stiff? While it’s often misconstrued as arthritis or another orthopedic problem, such as a rotator cuff injury, the impaired movement can be a sign of Parkinson’s dementia.
Although sometimes confused with tremors, dystonia is a disorder where muscles move and twist involuntarily. It can be painful and frustrating, as well as interfere with the desired movement. While this affects the eyes, limbs, or neck, it doesn’t always coincide with Parkinson’s disease dementia.
Risk Factors for Parkinson’s Disease
One of the direct causes of Parkinson’s disease is the build-up of protein clumps called “Lewy bodies” in the brain’s nerve cells. While it’s not entirely understood why this build-up happens, it’s important to note that signs of Parkison’s are only noticeable as you start getting older. The signs emerge between the 50-85 age range, and the symptoms of Parkison’s disease can start within a year of a diagnosis. However, it could also take as long as 10 years from the first minor mobility issue and the Parkinson’s dementia diagnosis.
It’s been difficult to determine the exact genetic causes of Parkinson’s disease. You or your loved one could be experiencing a completely different treatment response, rate of decline, and symptoms from others with the same diagnosis. There have been some discoveries made in the way genetic changes affect the protein build-up of Parkinson’s dementia. This could be the key in finding out why people display different symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and how it can be treated. Keep in mind that genetic mutations won’t always trigger Parkison’s, but they will put you at risk.
G2019S is one of at least 20 distinct mutations linked to Parkinson’s disease dementia that occurs in the LRRK2 gene. Mutations cause a loss of neurons, so when this loss grows, you or your loved one will begin experiencing signs of Parkinson’s dementia such as cognitive disturbances. Pharmaceutical companies are carrying out research to determine if the symptoms of this disease can be treated using neuro blockers on the abnormal gene activity.
It’s estimated that 5-10% of people like you—or either of your parents living with Parkinson’s dementia—also have a GBA-gene mutation. Keep in mind though: there are over 380 mutations associated with the GBA gene. Of those, only a select few are capable of causing the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. This means that you’re still at a low risk for developing this neurodegenerative disease even if you have a GBA gene alteration.
Any genetic alteration to the SNCA gene directly creates excess alpha-synuclein. Once an excess amount of Alpha-synuclein or Lewy bodies start to form in the brain, the activity of your nerve cells will be negatively impacted. The abnormal amount of alpha-synuclein protein is one of the causes of Parkinson’s disease that can be found in every person afflicted. Research teams have been working on ways to reduce the amount of Lewy bodies present in someone with Parkinson’s dementia.
Parkinson’s Dementia Care Options Provided by the Team at Terra Vista
Terra Vista’s Alzheimer’s care facility is equipped to easily handle all of your or your loved one’s needs. Our entire staff receives extensive dementia care training so we can expertly assist with medication, healthy eating, socialization, cleaning, and more. We keep a 24-hour professional nursing team on site to help monitor and oversee resident health and well-being!
We have built a community support network to help anyone who’s struggling to take the right steps for treatment. If you want the help of a warm, welcoming community for you or your family member’s Parkinson’s disease dementia, call our dementia care facility at (630) 793-0753 to learn more about our Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and memory therapy services.