Parkinson's Disease and Dementia

September 1, 2020 | Understanding Dementia

What is it?

Parkinson's occurs in individuals who have low levels of a chemical in the brain called dopamine. Parkinson's can be genetic in individuals who develop the disease at an early-onset age due to specific genetic problems. According to the Parkinson's Foundation, about half of people with Parkinson's develop a mild cognitive impairment. As the disease progresses, cognitive difficulty can worsen to a more severe level. 

Symptoms

  • trouble moving or walking
  • slowed movement
  • stiffness, and trouble with balance or falling
  • involuntary movements of arms, legs, face or trunk

The above symptoms are all classified as movement symptoms. There are also many non-movement symptoms which include dementia among many other things such as anxiety, depression, respiratory problems, and problems with speech or swallowing. To view a full list of symptoms, visit the Parkinson's Foundation website listed below.

How is it diagnosed?

Like other conditions, Parkinson's Disease can be difficult to diagnose as it can show similar symptoms as other medical conditions. Tests that are done to diagnose Parkinson's Disease include a neurological exam, review of medical and family history, and brain scans such as a CT or MRI.

How is it treated?

Similar to Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease can't be cured, but there are treatments that can be given to help control the symptoms. Medications containing dopamine are commonly used to treat Parkinson's. Another type of treatment is deep brain stimulation which uses electrical impulses to treat parts of the brain 

Learn More:

John Hopkins Medicine

Parkinson's Foundation