You See Things That Aren’t There
Recurring visual hallucinations may be an early symptom of Lewy body or Parkinsons disease dementia, although people with Alzheimers disease can experience them, too. These can be as simple as seeing flashing lights or as elaborate as encountering animals and people that arent real.
Sometimes the hallucinations are quite frightening, like seeing a wolf or a bear trying to break through the window, says Hsiung. Other times theyre more positive, like a grandmother who looks out the window and sees her grandchildren playing in the playground, but no one is there.
Researchers believe that visual hallucinations may be caused by damage to the brains visual-processing system, in combination with the diseases disruption of the sleep cycleso that the visions might actually be dreams breaking into waking consciousness.
What Causes Parkinson Disease
Parkinson disease arises from decreased dopamine production in the brain. The absence of dopamine makes it hard for the brain to coordinate muscle movements. Low dopamine also contributes to mood and cognitive problems later in the course of the disease. Experts don’t know what triggers the development of Parkinson disease most of the time. Early onset Parkinson disease is often inherited and is the result of certain gene defects.
Subtle Changes In Middle Age May Cause You To Joke That Youre Getting Old But Some Changes May Be Early Signs Of Parkinsons Diseaseno Laughing Matter
Shaking caused by tremors and an increasingly rigid body are two early signs of Parkinson’s disease.
Some of the early signs of Parkinsons disease are subtle, and they often come and go at first. Smell is one of the most universally common early signs of Parkinsonss disease. You might notice that the cats litter box isnt as overwhelming as it once was or the turkey baking in the oven doesnt fill the house with a great aroma.
The loss of smell, however, is significant as one of the early signs of Parkinsons disease. Researchers at the Max Planck Research Unit for Neurogenetics in Frankfurt and the University of Auckland in New Zealand have found that the distribution and total volume of glomerulifunctional units in the olfactory bulbare altered in patients with PD. What can be done with this knowledge will require further research, but its an important finding, as it confirms loss of smell as one of the early signs of Parkinsons disease.
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What Is Lewy Body Dementia
Lewy body dementia is not a single disorder but rather a spectrum of closely-related disorders involving disturbances of cognition, behavior, sleep, movement and autonomic function.
In these progressive disorders, Lewy bodies build up in the brain. Lewy bodies in the brain stem cause a disruption in the production of chemical messengers called dopamine. Too little dopamine can cause parkinsonism, a clinical syndrome thats characterized by tremor, bradykinesia , rigidity and postural instability. Parkinsonism can be caused by Parkinsons disease itself as well as by other underlying neurological conditions such as LBD. These Lewy bodies are also found throughout other areas of the brain, including the cerebral cortex. The neurotransmitter acetylcholine is also depleted, causing disruption of perception, thinking and behavior.
A German neurologist, Friederich H. Lewy, first discovered the abnormal protein deposits in the early 1900s as he was conducting research on Parkinsons disease.
Stage : Mild Cognitive Impairment
Clear cognitive problems begin to manifest in stage 3. A few signs of stage 3 dementia include:
- Getting lost easily
- Noticeably poor performance at work
- Forgetting the names of family members and close friends
- Difficulty retaining information read in a book or passage
- Losing or misplacing important objects
- Difficulty concentrating
Patients often start to experience mild to moderate anxiety as these symptoms increasingly interfere with day to day life. Patients who may be in this stage of dementia are encouraged to have a clinical interview with a clinician for proper diagnosis.
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Where To Get Help
- Your local community health centre
- National Dementia Helpline Dementia Australia Tel. 1800 100 500
- Aged Care Assessment Services Tel. 1300 135 090
- My Aged Care 1800 200 422
- Cognitive Dementia and Memory Service clinics Tel. 1300 135 090
- Carers Victoria Tel. 1800 242 636
- Commonwealth Carelink and Respite Centres Australian Government Tel. 1800 052 222
- Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service Tel. 1800 699 799 for 24-hour telephone advice for carers and care workers
What Is Parkinsons Disease
Parkinsons disease is a nervous system disease that affects your ability to control movement. The disease usually starts out slowly and worsens over time. If you have Parkinsons disease, you may shake, have muscle stiffness, and have trouble walking and maintaining your balance and coordination. As the disease worsens, you may have trouble talking, sleeping, have mental and memory problems, experience behavioral changes and have other symptoms.
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What Are The Types Of Lewy Body Dementia
There are two types of LBD: dementia with Lewy bodies and Parkinsons disease dementia.
Both types cause the same changes in the brain. And, over time, they can cause similar symptoms. The main difference is in when the cognitive and movement symptoms start.
Dementia with Lewy bodies causes problems with thinking ability that seem similar to Alzheimers disease. Later, it also causes other symptoms, such as movement symptoms, visual hallucinations, and certain sleep disorders. It also causes more trouble with mental activities than with memory.
Parkinsons disease dementia starts as a movement disorder. It first causes the symptoms of Parkinsons disease: slowed movement, muscle stiffness, tremor, and a shuffling walk. Later on, it causes dementia.
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Hospice Eligibility For Parkinsons Disease
Due to the progressive nature of Parkinsons disease, it can be challenging for families to know when their loved one is eligible for the support of hospice care. If a loved one has been diagnosed with six months or less to live or if they have experienced a decline in their ability to move, speak, or participate in the activities of daily living without caregiver assistance, it is time to speak with a hospice professional about next steps.
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How Is Parkinson’s Disease Diagnosed
Your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms and your past health and will do a neurological exam. This exam includes questions and tests that show how well your nerves are working. For example, your doctor will watch how you move, check your muscle strength and reflexes, and check your vision.
Your doctor will also ask questions about your mood.
In some cases, your doctor may have you try a medicine. How this medicine works may help your doctor know if you have Parkinson’s disease.
There are no lab or blood tests that can help your doctor know whether you have Parkinson’s. But you may have tests to help your doctor rule out other diseases that could be causing your symptoms. For example, you might have an MRI to look for signs of a stroke or brain tumor.
Are There Medicines To Treat Pdd
Though there is no cure for PDD yet, there are medications that help manage the symptoms. These medications are called cholinesterase inhibitors, and they can help if a person with PDD is having memory problems. Some examples of these medicines are donepezil, rivastigmine and galantamine. Sleep problems may be managed by sleep medications such as melatonin.
Because people with PDD are usually very sensitive to medications, any new medication, even one that is not being used for the brain, needs to be reviewed with the persons provider to avoid potential contraindication.
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Struggling To Adapt To Change
For someone in the early stages of dementia, the experience can cause fear. Suddenly, they cant remember people they know or follow what others are saying. They cant remember why they went to the store, and they get lost on the way home.
Because of this, they might crave routine and be afraid to try new experiences. Difficulty adapting to change is also a typical symptom of early dementia.
Conditions With Symptoms Similar To Dementia
Remember that many conditions have symptoms similar to dementia, so it is important not to assume that someone has dementia just because some of the above symptoms are present. Strokes, depression, excessive long-term alcohol consumption, infections, hormonal disorders, nutritional deficiencies and brain tumours can all cause dementia-like symptoms. Many of these conditions can be treated.
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Coping With A Parkinsons Diagnosis
A diagnosis of Parkinsons can be a frightening experience for both you and your loved ones. While there is currently no cure, there are treatments available for Parkinsons symptoms and lifestyle changes you can make to slow the progression of the disease and delay the onset of more debilitating symptoms, including Parkinsons disease dementia. Early diagnosis can prolong independence and help you to live life fully for much longer.
If youve been diagnosed with Parkinsons you may feel anger, deep sadness, or fear about what the future will bring. These feelings are all normal. Its also normal to grieve as you deal with this enormous adjustment.
Give yourself some time to adjust. As with any major change in life, dont expect that you will smoothly snap into this new transition. You may feel alright for a while, and then suddenly feel stressed and overwhelmed again. Take time to adjust to this new transition.
Learn all you can about Parkinsons disease and Parkinsons disease dementia. Educating yourself and making important decisions early can help you feel more in control during this difficult time.
Reach out for support. Living with Parkinsons presents many challenges, but there is help available for this journey. The more you reach out to others and get support, the more youll be able to cope with symptoms while continuing to enrich and find meaning in your life.
What Are The Parkinsons Disease Dementia Criteria
Many people with Parkinsons disease experience cognitive changes , but not all of them develop full-blown dementia. So at what point does Parkinsons disease cause dementia?
On average, Parkinsons disease dementia happens about 10 years after a person first starts having movement problems.
It happens many, many years after someone has developed Parkinsons,Lynda Nwabuobi, MD, assistant professor of clinical neurology at Weill Cornell Parkinsons Disease and Movement Disorders Institute, tells Health. It can be around 10 to 15 years.
In fact, if someone shows signs of dementia early on in their Parkinsons diagnosis , it could be that they were misdiagnosed out of the gate. They might have dementia with Lewy bodies, Dr. Nwabuobi explains.
Timing is the main factor in Lewy body dementia versus Parkinsons disease dementia. While the two can look very similar, the dementia symptoms occur before motor symptoms in Lewy body dementia, and in Parkinsons disease the reverse is true.
If you look at the brain, its difficult to distinguish them, Dr. Litvan says. But clinically, they are different.
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What Causes Parkinsons Disease
Parkinsons disease occurs when nerve cells in an area of the brain called the substantia nigra become impaired or die. These cells normally produce dopamine, a chemical that helps the cells of the brain communicate . When these nerve cells become impaired or die, they produce less dopamine. Dopamine is especially important for the operation of another area of the brain called the basal ganglia. This area of the brain is responsible for organizing the brains commands for body movement. The loss of dopamine causes the movement symptoms seen in people with Parkinsons disease.
People with Parkinsons disease also lose another neurotransmitter called norepinephrine. This chemical is needed for proper functioning of the sympathetic nervous system. This system controls some of the bodys autonomic functions such as digestion, heart rate, blood pressure and breathing. Loss of norepinephrine causes some of the non-movement-related symptoms of Parkinsons disease.
Scientists arent sure what causes the neurons that produce these neurotransmitter chemicals to die.
Taking Medicine With Food
Early in the disease, it might be helpful to take pills with food to help with nausea, which may be caused by some of the medicines for Parkinson’s disease.
Later in the disease, taking the medicines at least 1 hour before meals may help them work best.
Some medicines for Parkinson’s disease don’t work as well if you take them at the same time you eat food with protein in it, such as meat or cheese. The protein can block the medicine and keep it from working as well as it should.
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When To See A Doctor
Forgetfulness and memory problems dont automatically point to dementia. These are normal parts of aging and can also occur due to other factors, such as fatigue. Still, you shouldnt ignore the symptoms. If you or someone you know is experiencing a number of dementia symptoms that arent improving, talk with a doctor.
They can refer you to a neurologist who can examine you or your loved ones physical and mental health and determine whether the symptoms result from dementia or another cognitive problem. The doctor may order:
- a complete series of memory and mental tests
- a neurological exam
- brain imaging tests
If youre concerned about your forgetfulness and dont already have a neurologist, you can view doctors in your area through the Healthline FindCare tool.
Dementia is more common in people over the age of 65, but it can also affect younger people. Early onset of the disease can begin when people are in their 30s, 40s, or 50s. With treatment and early diagnosis, you can slow the progression of the disease and maintain mental function. The treatments may include medications, cognitive training, and therapy.
Possible causes of dementia include:
- Alzheimers disease, which is the leading cause of dementia
- brain damage due to injury or stroke
Causes Of Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease is caused by a loss of nerve cells in part of the brain called the substantia nigra. This leads to a reduction in a chemical called dopamine in the brain.
Dopamine plays a vital role in regulating the movement of the body. A reduction in dopamine is responsible for many of the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
Exactly what causes the loss of nerve cells is unclear. Most experts think that a combination of genetic and environmental factors is responsible.
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Hallucinations Or Delusions Of Reality
Unlike Alzheimers disease, individuals in the early stages of Lewy Body Dementia may exhibit cognitive changes such as hallucinations or distortions of reality. In general, hallucinations caused by LBD are vivid and usually visual, rather than auditory. LBD differs from other forms of dementia in that most early-stage cases do not involve memory loss.
How Will Parkinson’s Disease Affect Your Life
Finding out that you have a long-term, progressive disease can lead to a wide range of feelings. You may feel angry, afraid, sad, or worried about what lies ahead. It may help to keep a few things in mind:
- Usually this disease progresses slowly. Some people live for many years with only minor symptoms.
- Many people are able to keep working for years. As the disease gets worse, you may need to change how you work.
- It is important to take an active role in your health care. Find a doctor you trust and can work with.
- Depression is common in people who have Parkinson’s. If you feel very sad or hopeless, talk to your doctor or see a counselor.
- It can make a big difference to know that you’re not alone. Ask your doctor about Parkinson’s support groups, or look for online groups or message boards.
- Parkinson’s affects more than just the person who has it. It also affects your loved ones. Be sure to include them in your decisions.
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Difficulty Finding The Right Words
Another early symptom of dementia is struggling to communicate thoughts. A person with dementia may have difficulty explaining something or finding the right words to express themselves. Having a conversation with a person who has dementia can be difficult, and it may take longer than usual to conclude.
Treatment And Care For Lewy Body Dementia
While LBD currently cannot be prevented or cured, some symptoms may respond to treatment for a period of time. An LBD treatment plan may involve medications, physical and other types of therapy, and counseling. A plan to make any home safety updates and identify any equipment can make everyday tasks easier.
A skilled care team often can suggest ways to improve quality of life for both people with LBD and their caregivers.
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Tip : Whatand Howyou Eat Can Make A Difference
Theres no specific Parkinsons disease diet, but by adjusting your eating habits, you can help protect your brain. Diets that are good for your heart tend to also be good for brain health. Eating habits such as those promoted in the Mediterranean diet can help reduce inflammation, protect neurons, and promote better communication between brain cells.
Primarily, its important to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, cut down on sugary foods and refined carbs, reduce fried and processed foods, and boost your intake of healthy fats and home-cooked meals. High protein meals may also help to benefit your brain chemistry.
Symptoms Of Parkinsons Disease
Parkinson’s disease has four main symptoms:
- Tremor in hands, arms, legs, jaw, or head
- Stiffness of the limbs and trunk
- Slowness of movement
- Impaired balance and coordination, sometimes leading to falls
Other symptoms may include depression and other emotional changes difficulty swallowing, chewing, and speaking urinary problems or constipation skin problems and sleep disruptions.
Symptoms of Parkinsons and the rate of progression differ among individuals. Sometimes people dismiss early symptoms of Parkinson’s as the effects of normal aging. In most cases, there are no medical tests to definitively detect the disease, so it can be difficult to diagnose accurately.
Early symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are subtle and occur gradually. For example, affected people may feel mild tremors or have difficulty getting out of a chair. They may notice that they speak too softly, or that their handwriting is slow and looks cramped or small. Friends or family members may be the first to notice changes in someone with early Parkinson’s. They may see that the person’s face lacks expression and animation, or that the person does not move an arm or leg normally.
People with Parkinson’s often develop a parkinsonian gait that includes a tendency to lean forward, small quick steps as if hurrying forward, and reduced swinging of the arms. They also may have trouble initiating or continuing movement.
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