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parkinsons dementia

The Guide to Parkinson’s Related Dementia

As your loved one ages, you’ll notice changes in their health, behavior, and personality. It shouldn’t be taken lightly if they begin having difficulty with daily activities. 

A senior with Parkinson’s dementia may struggle with memory and thinking, impaired mobility, soft or slurred speech, and mental health changes. 

Though Parkinson’s dementia is a progressive disease with no cure or specific testing, it can be diagnosed by a medical care provider and treated effectively.

If your senior loved one is having a difficult time living alone and their needs are too much for you to take on by yourself, transitioning them to an independent living, assisted living, or memory care community could be the solution.

Learn more about Parkinson’s dementia, how it differs from Alzheimer’s disease, how fast it can progress, and where your loved one can receive enhanced care. 

What type of dementia is associated with Parkinson’s?

The longer a senior lives with Parkinson’s disease, the more likely they are to develop dementia. 80% of seniors who have experienced movement symptoms for 10 years will experience cognitive impairments. 

Lewy body dementia is often associated with Parkinson’s disease dementia because of their overlapping symptoms and build-up of the same protein called alpha-synuclein. When alpha-synuclein clump together, they form Lewy bodies. 

In the beginning stages of Parkinson’s disease, the loss of cells caused by Lewy bodies affects parts of the brain important for movement. However, as the disease progresses, parts of the brain important for mental functions become damaged. 

Both Lewy body dementia and Parkinson’s dementia are common progressive neurodegenerative diseases that affect seniors. 

Since symptoms will worsen over time, the best thing you can do for your senior loved one is to get them medical care and a treatment plan early on. 

The sooner your loved one gets treatment, the sooner they can begin living a higher quality of life. 

The Kensington White Plains offers our residents support, medical care, and on-site rehabilitation to help them maintain communication skills, improve balance and coordination, and live a life with dignity.

How is Parkinson’s dementia different from Alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s dementia are progressive brain disorders affecting memory and movement. 

With Alzheimer’s, physical symptoms do not occur until the disease progresses. 

It begins with cognitive impairments, such as memory loss, inability to concentrate, mood changes, and difficulties communicating. 

Parkinson’s dementia begins with movement symptoms such as muscle stiffness, tremors, impaired balance and coordination, and sleep disturbances.

Cognitive impairments and memory loss are symptoms that don’t typically appear in seniors with Parkinson’s dementia until years of movement symptoms, but when they do, they often include delusions, hallucinations, and paranoia. 

Seniors with Alzheimer’s disease show abnormal levels of the proteins beta-amyloid and tau on their brain scan images. When these proteins clump together, they cause cell death, making it impossible for cells in the brain to communicate with each other.

Seniors with Parkinson’s dementia don’t appear to have the same protein build-up as those with Alzheimer’s. Rather than excessive beta-amyloid or tau, they appear to have a significant amount of Lewy bodies. 

How fast does Parkinson’s dementia progress?

Parkinson’s dementia progresses slowly, beginning with movement symptoms and advancing to dementia symptoms later on. 

Generally, a senior will not experience dementia symptoms for at least 10 years after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. 

Parkinson’s disease includes five stages, ranging in severity. 

During the first four stages, seniors can likely live alone, with minimal assistance, though many prefer transitioning sooner, knowing they can receive help and care when needed. 

Regardless of what stage of Parkinson’s disease or Parkinson’s dementia your loved one is in, a kind and supportive community can help. 

Coping with cognitive changes

Cognitive changes are difficult for seniors and their families to cope with. 

Seniors experiencing cognitive impairment may find some relief by taking certain medications, such as cholinesterase inhibitors, which help memory and thinking processes. This drug can even help reduce hallucinations, illusions, and paranoia. 

Occupational, physical, and speech therapy are also beneficial, as they can help seniors learn adaptive strategies for daily activities and help with language functions and information processing. 

Transition early to assisted living 

If you or your loved one feels they need more care and opportunities to maintain or achieve wellness, you don’t need to wait until they reach the later stages of their disease. 

Transitioning early can give your loved one more chances to socialize, learn coping skills, and receive rehabilitation by certified professionals who have undergone specialized training to address the effects of Parkinson’s disease. 

Specialized care at an enhanced community for your loved one

At The Kensington White Plains, we stand by Our Promise to love and care for your family as our own. 

With a team of professionals trained in high acuity care, your senior loved one can age in place. 

We offer our residents: 

The Kensington White Plains has two memory care neighborhoods designed to accommodate the level of care your loved one needs as their Parkinson’s dementia progresses. 

Reach out to us to learn more about our assisted living and memory care communities, amenities, caregiver support, and events.

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