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Monday, Mar 30, 2015

Dementia related to Parkinson’s disease


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Commonsense CaregivingFor the most part, when the general public hears the medical term "Parkinsonís Disease," also known as "PD," they think of it as simply being a degenerative mobility disorder, which has affected a well known Hollywood Personality, Michael J. Fox. While this calculation is accurate, it is also estimated that 30 percent of Parkinsonís patients develop some form of dementia. This symptom does not usually come to mind since dementia most often does not begin to raise its ugly head until about 10 years after the motor difficulties appear. This is known as "Parkinsonís Disease Dementia," or "PDD."

It is estimated that in the United States alone, more than one million people have Parkinsonís Disease. There are approximately 50,000 new cases being diagnosed every year. It mostly attacks people over the age of 50, however, there is also what is called "Juvenile Parkinsonís Disease." These cases are showing up in people as young as 30.

Most patients with "PD" lose an assortment of mental abilities over the years, but those who have dementia as well, seem to have a decline of more intensity.

It is important to note that the 10 year span which I mentioned above is the norm. It concerns the time between the onset of the loss of motor skills and when signs of dementia begin to appear. If symptoms of dementia start showing up earlier than that, something else is most likely the cause.

Many patients are diagnosed with Parkinsonís along with Lewy Body Dementia. Just as with any other type of dementia, it is extremely important to be correctly diagnosed as early as possible.

If youíre noticing signs of restlessness, anxiety, delusions or language difficulties, these are not normal symptoms that PDD may cause.

Always remember that depression itself can cause symptoms of dementia. It is essential that these and all other characteristics be discussed with the attending physician.

Those who are diagnosed with PDD usually have "Lewy Bodies" present. "Lewy Bodies" are protein deposits attached to nerve cells which eventually end up destroying these same cells. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter involved in regulating movement. What happens is that "Lewy Bodies" damage not only the dopamine, but other neurotransmitters as well.

For those of you that have loved ones that develop PPD, make sure to provide a solid routine existence for them to follow. A predictable, run of the mill lifestyle will help immensely in their care. By doing this, you will also see a marked improvement in their levels of anxiety.

The next act of great consequence and kindness you can do for them is to continually reassure them that you will always be there for them. Always!

Gary Joseph LeBlanc was the primary caregiver of his father for a decade after he was diagnosed with Alzheimerís disease. He can be reached at His newly released book, ďManaging Alzheimerís and Dementia BehaviorsĒ, ďWhile I Still CanĒ and the expanded edition of, ďStaying Afloat in a Sea of Forgetfulness,Ē can be found at

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