Does Parkinsons Affect Memory
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.
Drug Therapy And Research
If the disease progresses beyond minor symptoms, drug treatment may be indicated. Drug therapy for Parkinsonâs typically provides relief for 10â15 years or more. The most commonly prescribed medication is L-dopa , and this helps replenish some of the depleted dopamine in the brain. Sinemet, a combination of levodopa and carbidopa, is the drug most doctors use to treat Parkinsonâs disease. Recent clinical studies have suggested, in the younger person, the class of drugs called âdopamine agonistsâ should be used prior to levodopa-carpidopa except in patients with cognitive problems or hallucinations. In those older than 75, dopamine agonists should be used cautiously because of an added risk of hallucinations.
Other drugs are also used, and new drugs are continually being tested. It is common for multiple drugs to be prescribed because many of them work well together to control symptoms and reduce side effects. Contrary to past beliefs, starting Sinemet in newly diagnosed people does not lead to early symptoms of dyskinesia . Current knowledge is that the disease progression causes dyskinesias, not a âresistanceâ to the drug.
Quality of life studies show that early treatment with dopaminergic medications improves daily functioning, prevents falls, and improves a personâs sense of well-being.
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.
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How To Treat Parkinsons Disease
The good news is that while there is no cure, Parkinsons is a highly treatable condition, especially in the early stages. With proper diagnosis and treatment, many Parkinsons patients continue to lead productive, self-sufficient lives for many years.
There is no standard treatment for Parkinsons disease treatment for each person is based on his or her symptoms. Treatments include medication, physical therapy, and lifestyle modifications such as dietary changes. Dietary and nutritional changes can have a huge impact on health and comfort, as can getting more rest, better sleep, fresh air, and appropriate levels of exercise.
Emotional well-being is as important as physical wellness. People with Parkinsons should enlist support from family, friends, and colleagues and stay active and engaged to the extent it is possible.
Though none of the many Parkinsons medications can reverse the effects of the disease, they can effectively mitigate and manage the symptoms for long periods of time in some instances. Discovering the right medications, complementary therapies, professional and personal support, as well as ways to stay independent can enhance the quality of life for Parkinsons patients. Trying something like music therapy can be a great way to help those with Parkinsons build strength while doing something they enjoy.
How Is Parkinsons Diagnosed
Doctors use your medical history and physical examination to diagnose Parkinson’s disease . No blood test, brain scan or other test can be used to make a definitive diagnosis of PD.
Researchers believe that in most people, Parkinson’s is caused by a combination of environmental and genetic factors. Certain environmental exposures, such as pesticides and head injury, are associated with an increased risk of PD. Still, most people have no clear exposure that doctors can point to as a straightforward cause. The same goes for genetics. Certain genetic mutations are linked to an increased risk of PD. But in the vast majority of people, Parkinsons is not directly related to a single genetic mutation. Learning more about the genetics of Parkinsons is one of our best chances to understand more about the disease and discover how to slow or stop its progression.
Aging is the greatest risk factor for Parkinsons, and the average age at diagnosis is 60. Still, some people get PD at 40 or younger.
Men are diagnosed with Parkinsons at a higher rate than women and whites more than other races. Researchers are studying these disparities to understand more about the disease and health care access and to improve inclusivity across care and research.
Aging is the greatest risk factor for Parkinsons, and the average age at diagnosis is 60. Still, some people get PD at 40 or younger.
The Michael J. Fox Foundation has made finding a test for Parkinsons disease one of our top priorities.
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The 5 Stages Of Parkinsons Disease
Getting older is underrated by most. Its a joyful experience to sit back, relax and watch the people in your life grow up, have kids of their own and flourish. Age can be a beautiful thing, even as our bodies begin to slow down. We spoke with David Shprecher, DO, movement disorders director at Banner Sun Health Research Institute about a well-known illness which afflicts as many as 2% of people older than 65, Parkinsons Disease.
What Lifestyle Changes Can I Make To Ease Parkinsons Symptoms
Exercise: Exercise helps improve muscle strength, balance, coordination, flexibility, and tremor. It is also strongly believed to improve memory, thinking and reduce the risk of falls and decrease anxiety and depression. One study in persons with Parkinsons disease showed that 2.5 hours of exercise per week resulted in improved ability to move and a slower decline in quality of life compared to those who didnt exercise or didnt start until later in the course of their disease. Some exercises to consider include strengthening or resistance training, stretching exercises or aerobics . All types of exercise are helpful.
Eat a healthy, balanced diet: This is not only good for your general health but can ease some of the non-movement related symptoms of Parkinsons, such as constipation. Eating foods high in fiber in particular can relieve constipation. The Mediterranean diet is one example of a healthy diet.
Preventing falls and maintaining balance: Falls are a frequent complication of Parkinson’s. While you can do many things to reduce your risk of falling, the two most important are: 1) to work with your doctor to ensure that your treatments whether medicines or deep brain stimulation are optimal and 2) to consult with a physical therapist who can assess your walking and balance. The physical therapist is the expert when it comes to recommending assistive devices or exercise to improve safety and preventing falls.
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Is The Dementia Caused By Parkinsons Or Something Else
Indications that dementia may be caused by something other than Parkinsons disease include agitation, delusions , and language difficulties. If the onset of cognitive symptoms is sudden, theyre more likely due to something other than Parkinsons diseaseeven reversible causes such as infection, a vitamin B12 deficiency, or an underactive thyroid gland.
Depression can mimic dementia by causing similar symptoms such as apathy, memory problems, and concentration difficulties. Since depression is very common in Parkinsons patients, its important to recognize the signs and symptoms of depression in older adults.
Parkinsons disease dementia vs. other dementias
Other types of dementia that can be commonly mistaken for Parkinsons disease dementia include:
Lewy Body Dementia is characterized by fluctuations in alertness and attention, recurrent visual hallucinations, and Parkinsonian motor symptoms like rigidity and the loss of spontaneous movement. In this disorder, cognitive problems such as hallucinations tend to occur much earlier in the course of the disease and often precede difficulties with walking and motor control.
Alzheimers disease and Parkinsons disease are both common in the elderly, especially in those over 85. Patients with Parkinsons who develop dementia may even develop Alzheimers dementia as well. Therefore, its important to be aware of the signs of Alzheimers Disease and how its treated.
Are There Differences In Parkinsons Treatment Between Men And Women
All current treatment options address PD symptoms, but they do not slow down or stop the progression of PD. Levodopa, often prescribed as Sinemet, is considered the gold standard therapy for Parkinsons movement symptoms. However, many people with PD experience changes in the effectiveness of the drug as the disease progresses. And some studies suggest that women are more likely than men to report these fluctuations earlier in the disease course and more frequently overall.
In particular, it seems that women are more likely to have involuntary movements called dyskinesias that occur when levodopa levels are highest in the blood. There are several factors that could be contributing to dyskinesia, including dosage, body weight and age of onset. Lower body weight can affect how medications build up in someones system. Lighter people sometimes need a smaller dose of medication to feel its effect. On average, women weigh less than men. If women and men are receiving similar doses, this may explain how levodopa levels are causing dyskinesias.
Physicians have also suggested that they find it harder to fine-tune Parkinsons medications for women than for men. Women more often experience large swings in symptoms from even small changes in medications or schedules.
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Symptoms Of Parkinsons Disease In Men
In general, men with PD have similar motor and non-motor symptoms as women with PD. However, men have more difficulties with REM sleep behavior disorder . Women report more symptoms of tremor while men report more symptoms of rigidity.4 Other symptoms of PD include:
- Tremor of the hands, arms, legs, or face
- Gradual loss of spontaneous movement
- Rigidity of the limbs and trunk
- Slowness of movement
- Trouble with urination or constipation6
Although PD is highly individual, and symptoms vary in their presence and severity between patients, there may be some differences in how these symptoms appear in men compared to women with PD. Women more often experienced tremor than men .4
Women have better scores for motor abilities than men, based on the scoring of the Unified Parkinsons Disease Rating Scale. These differences in motor symptoms were significant only in patients who had PD for more than 5 years.3
Where To Go For Help
Several national PD outreach groups exist and provide education, community support, research funding, patient and caregiver programs. Clinical trials of experimental therapies for PD are listed at www.clinicaltrials.gov. The organizations in have many patient booklets available for download, educational DVDs, physician information, local support groups, dance and exercise classes, caregiver respite care, fundraising opportunities, and movement disorder specialist referral lists.
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How Is Parkinsons Disease Dementia Diagnosed
No single test can diagnose Parkinsons disease dementia. Instead, doctors rely on a series or combination of tests and indicators.
Your neurologist will likely diagnose you with Parkinsons and then track your progression. They may monitor you for signs of dementia. As you get older, your risk for Parkinsons dementia increases.
Your doctor is more likely to conduct regular testing to monitor your cognitive functions, memory recall, and mental health.
How Is Parkinson Disease Treated
Parkinson disease can’t be cured. But there are different therapies that can help control symptoms. Many of the medicines used to treat Parkinson disease help to offset the loss of the chemical dopamine in the brain. Most of these medicines help manage symptoms quite successfully.
A procedure called deep brain stimulation may also be used to treat Parkinson disease. It sends electrical impulses into the brain to help control tremors and twitching movements. Some people may need surgery to manage Parkinson disease symptoms. Surgery may involve destroying small areas of brain tissue responsible for the symptoms. However, these surgeries are rarely done since deep brain stimulation is now available.
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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.
Causes Of Parkinsons Disease In Seniors
To understand Parkinsons disease, we will need to understand about the root causes behind its existence. The body of the senior loved ones with the disease will experience a gradual breakdown of brain neurons or nerve cells, potentially leading to a destruction of the same neurons or cells. Thus, losing such neurons becomes symptomatic as it resultantly leads to the loss of dopamine. Dopamine is the brains chemical messenger that translates to the mind when the body needs to initiate some level of mobility. When the levels of dopamine decrease, there are fewer dopamine chemical messengers to inform the brain when the body needs to move. The result is an abnormality in the brain activity due to the overworked dopamine, and thus yielding the Parkinsons disease menace.
Researchers suggests that the elderly loved ones victimized by Parkinsons disease experience some changes in their brain activities. They, however, cannot pinpoint the reason as to why it tends to happen. Although the onset of Parkinsons disease is still unknown, it is considered to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Human Genes: Some researchers link the cause of Parkinsons disease to specific genetic mutations. Such an outcome is only possible if some family members have had the disease and have passed down those genes to future generations.
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Why The Lower Risk
Studies conducted around the world, and across race, ethnic and age groups, support the finding that women overall have a lower risk of developing PD than men, but we still dont know why. Environmental factors could explain this lower risk. It may be that women are less likely than men to be exposed to pesticides or heavy metals, or to sustain a head injuryall of which may increase a persons PD risk.
Biological differences between women and men may also play a role. Estrogen, the female sex hormone, may protect the brain against PD, but little is known about its influence. If estrogen is preventative, it may only be helpful at certain levels or for a specific time.
How To Communicate About The Transition Into An Assisted Living Facility To A Loved One With Parkinsons Disease
Consider the following factors to help you effectively communicate with your elderly loved one about how an assisted living facility may be able to provide the best care for their Parkinsons disease:
- Maintain a Face-To-Face Poise While Communicating. You will adequately understand the needs, emotional expressions, facial gestures, internal thoughts, and body language cues of the Parkinsons Disease elderly adult if you lock eyes while addressing issues.
- Understand and Behave Accordingly: When Parkinsons disease advances to maximum aggression, the affected individuals might not be in the best position to make sense of even a small sentence, and may react erratically. Thus, asking them questions that require a simple Yes or No answer will bridge the communication gap. You can even use labels to point to the preferred action or engagement that is relevant in the context.
- Be Patient and Repetitive in Your Communication Strategies: Repeating words several times will jog their memory and help better grasp the meaning of the words more effectively and efficiently.
- You Can Also Put Yourself in Their Shoes So You May Understand Their Perspective: Ask them to try to communicate their thoughts, try to understand what it may be like if suddenly your child becomes your caregiver and you have been diagnosed with Parkinsons disease, help them understand that it is okay to speak slower than usual, and be patient enough to help guide them with expressing their thoughts.
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Take Care Of Yourself
Probably one of the most important, and sometimes difficult, things caregivers can do is to take care of themselves. This includes maintaining mental and physical health by making and keeping your own medical and dental appointments. As a caregiver, it is important to keep your job whenever possible as it provides not only financial help and possibly insurance coverage, but also a sense of self-esteem. Join a support group for caregivers if possible. Support groups help you meet people who are going through what you are going though, vent frustrations, give and receive mutual support, and exchange resource information and coping strategies. Whenever possible get your sleep, take breaks, make and keep social activities, and try to keep your sense of humor.
Trouble Forming New Memories
Age is a contributing risk factor when it comes to the prevalence of Alzheimers disease as noted between people who are 65 to 85 years old.
Research suggests that the incidence of Alzheimers doubles every five years after the age of 65.
However, the disease does not correlate directly with aging but the odds of diagnosis is higher in older people. That is why signs like problems with forming new memories are hard to discern because several other issues related to aging have often become prominent by that time.
The illness, in general, affects the brain process and a persons ability to form new memories.
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