What’s The Difference Between Memory Loss And Parkinson’s Dementia
Alzheimer’s dementia and Parkinson’s disease can both affect a person’s memory, but not in the same way.
Generally speaking, Parkinson’s dementia is not associated with the sort of memory loss that comes with Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia. Put differently: It doesn’t typically impact a person’s ability to absorb and store new memories or information the way Alzheimer’s does.
“You can learn , but it’s difficult to retrieve the information that you have in your brain,”Irene Litvan, MD, director of the Movement Disorder Center at the University of California, San Diego, tells Health. “You may not know where the cassette is, but if somebody asks you, ‘Where were you when you lost it?’ You can say, ‘Oh, I was there.'”
But that’s not to say Parkinson’s disease dementia doesn’t affect memory at all. On the contrary, some people with Parkinson’s dementia do indeed experience short- and long-term memory loss. They might also forget how to perform simple tasks, like how to run the dishwasher. And since Parkinson’s can affect people in different ways, there’s no way to tell whether someone with the disease will experience memory loss related to dementia.
Diagnosis Of Parkinsons Disease
A number of disorders can cause symptoms similar to those of Parkinson’s disease. People with Parkinson’s-like symptoms that result from other causes are sometimes said to have parkinsonism. While these disorders initially may be misdiagnosed as Parkinson’s, certain medical tests, as well as response to drug treatment, may help to distinguish them from Parkinson’s. Since many other diseases have similar features but require different treatments, it is important to make an exact diagnosis as soon as possible.
There are currently no blood or laboratory tests to diagnose nongenetic cases of Parkinson’s disease. Diagnosis is based on a person’s medical history and a neurological examination. Improvement after initiating medication is another important hallmark of Parkinson’s disease.
How Is Parkinson Disease Diagnosed
Parkinson disease can be hard to diagnose. No single test can identify it. Parkinson can be easily mistaken for another health condition. A healthcare provider will usually take a medical history, including a family history to find out if anyone else in your family has Parkinson’s disease. He or she will also do a neurological exam. Sometimes, an MRI or CT scan, or some other imaging scan of the brain can identify other problems or rule out other diseases.
Comparison With Other Dementias
Dementia is the result of physical changes in the brain that can lead to memory loss and an inability to think clearly.
Several types of dementia exist, including:
PD dementia has different symptoms to other types.
Alzheimers dementia, for example, impairs memory and language. PD dementiam on the other hand, affects problem-solving, the speed at which thoughts occur, memory, and mood, alongside other important cognitive functions.
Dementia with Lewy bodies and Parkinsons disease dementia are similar in that the Lewy Bodies might be present in both forms.
However, whether the disease causes Lewy bodies or if Lewy bodies cause the disease symptoms is unclear. Researchers also believe that the way the Lewy bodies form in Parkinsons disease dementia is different from those in Lewy body dementia.
What Are The Symptoms Of Parkinsons Disease
Symptoms of Parkinsons disease and the rate of decline vary widely from person to person. The most common symptoms include:
Other symptoms include:
- Speech/vocal changes: Speech may be quick, become slurred or be soft in tone. You may hesitate before speaking. The pitch of your voice may become unchanged .
- Handwriting changes: You handwriting may become smaller and more difficult to read.
- Depression and anxiety.
- Sleeping disturbances including disrupted sleep, acting out your dreams, and restless leg syndrome.
- Pain, lack of interest , fatigue, change in weight, vision changes.
- Low blood pressure.
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Cognitive Symptoms Of Lewy Body Dementia
LBD causes changes in thinking abilities. These changes may include:
- Visual hallucinations, or seeing things that are not present. Visual hallucinations occur in up to 80 percent of people with LBD, often early on. Nonvisual hallucinations, such as hearing or smelling things that are not present, are less common than visual ones but may also occur.
- Unpredictable changes in concentration, attention, alertness, and wakefulness from day to day and sometimes throughout the day. Ideas may be disorganized, unclear, or illogical. These kinds of changes are common in LBD and may help distinguish it from Alzheimer’s disease.
- Severe loss of thinking abilities that interfere with daily activities. Unlike in Alzheimer’s dementia, memory problems may not be evident at first but often arise as LBD progresses. Other changes related to thinking may include poor judgment, confusion about time and place, and difficulty with language and numbers.
What Are The Complications Of Parkinson Disease
Parkinson disease causes physical symptoms at first. Problems with cognitive function, including forgetfulness and trouble with concentration, may arise later. As the disease gets worse with time, many people develop dementia. This can cause profound memory loss and makes it hard to maintain relationships.
Parkinson disease dementia can cause problems with:
- Speaking and communicating with others
- Problem solving
- Paying attention
If you have Parkinson disease and dementia, in time, you likely won’t be able to live by yourself. Dementia affects your ability to care of yourself, even if you can still physically do daily tasks.
Experts don’t understand how or why dementia often occurs with Parkinson disease. Its clear, though, that dementia and problems with cognitive function are linked to changes in the brain that cause problems with movement. As with Parkinson disease, dementia occurs when nerve cells degenerate, leading to chemical changes in the brain. Parkinson disease dementia may be treated with medicines also used to treat Alzheimer’s disease, another type of dementia.
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Tip : Make It A Priority To Be Socially Engaged
The more socially active you are, the more you connect face-to-face with others, the stronger your memory and cognition is likely to be. You dont need to be a social butterfly or the life of the party, but you do need to regularly connect with people who care about you.
Connecting with others is the most effective means of relieving stress which left unchecked can exacerbate symptoms of Parkinsons disease. Staying socially engaged also stimulates immune function that may slow the progress of disease. While many of us become more isolated as we get older, its never too late to meet others and develop new friendships.
Tips for meeting new people
Hotlines and support
UK: Call the helpline at 0808 800 0303 or visit Parkinsons UK to find support
Australia: Call the info line at 1800 644 189 or visit Parkinsons Australia for links to state organizations that provide support and services.
Canada: Call 1 800 565-3000 for information or referrals or visit Parkinson Society of Canada for regional resources and support.
Is Parkinsons Disease Inherited
Scientists have discovered gene mutations that are associated with Parkinsons disease.
There is some belief that some cases of early-onset Parkinsons disease disease starting before age 50 may be inherited. Scientists identified a gene mutation in people with Parkinsons disease whose brains contain Lewy bodies, which are clumps of the protein alpha-synuclein. Scientists are trying to understand the function of this protein and its relationship to genetic mutations that are sometimes seen in Parkinsons disease and in people with a type of dementia called Lewy body dementia.
Several other gene mutations have been found to play a role in Parkinsons disease. Mutations in these genes cause abnormal cell functioning, which affects the nerve cells ability to release dopamine and causes nerve cell death. Researchers are still trying to discover what causes these genes to mutate in order to understand how gene mutations influence the development of Parkinsons disease.
Scientists think that about 10% to 15% of persons with Parkinsons disease may have a genetic mutation that predisposes them to development of the disease. There are also environmental factors involved that are not fully understood.
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Types And Symptoms Of Dementia
Changes in the structure and chemistry of the brain cause memory and thinking problems in Parkinsons disease . The protein alpha-synuclein is central to Parkinsons. This protein forms sticky clumps, called Lewy bodies, that disrupt normal brain functioning. Parkinsons dementia is thought to be related to Lewy bodies.
What Causes Lewy Body Dementia
LBD happens when Lewy bodies build up in parts of the brain that control memory, thinking, and movement. Lewy bodies are abnormal deposits of a protein called alpha-synuclein. Researchers don’t know exactly why these deposits form. But they do know that other diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease, also involve a build-up of that protein.
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Signs And Symptoms Of Parkinson’s Disease
Illustration of the Parkinson disease by Sir William Richard Gowers from A Manual of Diseases of the Nervous System in 1886 showing the characteristic posture of PD patients
Signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are varied. Parkinson’s disease affects movement, producing motor symptoms. Non-motor symptoms, which include autonomic dysfunction, cognitive and neurobehavioral problems, and sensory and sleep difficulties, are also common.
Living With Parkinson Disease
These measures can help you live well with Parkinson disease:
- An exercise routine can help keep muscles flexible and mobile. Exercise also releases natural brain chemicals that can improve emotional well-being.
- High protein meals can benefit your brain chemistry
- Physical, occupational, and speech therapy can help your ability to care for yourself and communicate with others
- If you or your family has questions about Parkinson disease, want information about treatment, or need to find support, you can contact the American Parkinson Disease Association.
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What Is The Outlook For Persons With Parkinsons Disease
Although there is no cure or absolute evidence of ways to prevent Parkinsons disease, scientists are working hard to learn more about the disease and find innovative ways to better manage it, prevent it from progressing and ultimately curing it.
Currently, you and your healthcare teams efforts are focused on medical management of your symptoms along with general health and lifestyle improvement recommendations . By identifying individual symptoms and adjusting the course of action based on changes in symptoms, most people with Parkinsons disease can live fulfilling lives.
The future is hopeful. Some of the research underway includes:
- Using stem cells to produce new neurons, which would produce dopamine.
- Producing a dopamine-producing enzyme that is delivered to a gene in the brain that controls movement.
- Using a naturally occurring human protein glial cell-line derived neurotrophic factor, GDNF to protect dopamine-releasing nerve cells.
Many other investigations are underway too. Much has been learned, much progress has been made and additional discoveries are likely to come.
What Is Parkinson Disease
Parkinson disease is a movement disorder. It can cause the muscles to tighten and become rigid This makes it hard to walk and do other daily activities. People with Parkinsons disease also have tremors and may develop cognitive problems, including memory loss and dementia.
Parkinson disease is most common in people who are older than 50. The average age at which it occurs is 60. But some younger people may also get Parkinson disease. When it affects someone younger than age 50, it’s called early-onset Parkinson disease. You may be more likely to get early-onset Parkinson disease if someone in your family has it. The older you are, the greater your risk of developing Parkinson disease. It’s also much more common in men than in women.
Parkinson disease is a chronic and progressive disease. It doesn’t go away and continues to get worse over time.
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Living With Parkinsons Disease
Depending on severity, life can look very different for a person coping with Parkinsons Disease. As a loved one, your top priority will be their comfort, peace of mind and safety. Dr. Shprecher offered some advice, regardless of the diseases progression. Besides movement issues Parkinsons Disease can cause a wide variety of symptoms including drooling, constipation, low blood pressure when standing up, voice problems, depression, anxiety, sleep problems, hallucinations and dementia. Therefore, regular visits with a neurologist experienced with Parkinsons are important to make sure the diagnosis is on target, and the symptoms are monitored and addressed. Because changes in your other medications can affect your Parkinsons symptoms, you should remind each member of your healthcare team to send a copy of your clinic note after every appointment.
Dr. Shprecher also added that maintaining a healthy diet and getting regular exercise can help improve quality of life. Physical and speech therapists are welcome additions to any caregiving team.
Pdd Vs Dementia With Lewy Bodies
Another type of dementia is called Dementia with Lewy Bodies , which has similar symptoms to PDD. DLB is associated with abnormal deposits of a protein called alpha-synuclein in the brain. Lewy bodies are also found in the brains of people diagnosed with PDD.
However, DLB is diagnosed when cognitive decline happens before the motor symptoms of Parkinsons, or when motor symptoms and cognitive decline occur and progress closely together.
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Symptoms Of Parkinsons Disease Dementia
Signs and symptoms of Parkinsons disease dementia include:
- Mental inflexibility
- Short-term memory issues and memory loss
- Trouble with decision making
- Executive function difficulty
- Slow processing speed
- Visual processing difficulty
Non-motor symptoms that can be associated with PDD include:
- Psychosis :
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.
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Trouble Moving Or Walking
Do you feel stiff in your body, arms or legs? Have others noticed that your arms dont swing like they used to when you walk? Sometimes stiffness goes away as you move. If it does not, it can be a sign of Parkinson’s disease. An early sign might be stiffness or pain in your shoulder or hips. People sometimes say their feet seem stuck to the floor.
What is normal?If you have injured your arm or shoulder, you may not be able to use it as well until it is healed, or another illness like arthritis might cause the same symptom.
Cognitive And Psychiatric Symptoms
- depression and anxiety
- mild cognitive impairment slight memory problems and problems with activities that require planning and organisation
- dementia a group of symptoms, including more severe memory problems, personality changes, seeing things that are not there and believing things that are not true
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What Is Lewy Body Dementia Causes Symptoms And Treatments
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Lewy body dementia is a disease associated with abnormal deposits of a protein called alpha-synuclein in the brain. These deposits, called Lewy bodies, affect chemicals in the brain whose changes, in turn, can lead to problems with thinking, movement, behavior, and mood. Lewy body dementia is one of the most common causes of dementia.
LBD affects more than 1 million individuals in the United States. People typically show symptoms at age 50 or older, although sometimes younger people have LBD. LBD appears to affect slightly more men than women.
Diagnosing LBD can be challenging. Early LBD symptoms are often confused with similar symptoms found in other brain diseases or in psychiatric disorders. Lewy body dementia can occur alone or along with other brain disorders.
It is a progressive disease, meaning symptoms start slowly and worsen over time. The disease lasts an average of five to eight years from the time of diagnosis to death, but can range from two to 20 years for some people. How quickly symptoms develop and change varies greatly from person to person, depending on overall health, age, and severity of symptoms.
In the early stages of LBD, symptoms can be mild, and people can function fairly normally. As the disease advances, people with LBD require more help due to a decline in thinking and movement abilities. In the later stages of the disease, they often depend entirely on others for assistance and care.
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.
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