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What is Parkinson’s Dementia?

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What is Parkinson’s Dementia?

Being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease can initially cause problems with movement, such as balance, coordination, and muscle stiffness, although as time progresses people can also start to have problems with memory. Around a third of people living with Parkinson’s disease will go on to develop dementia.

According to the Alzheimer’s Society, “The disease that causes Parkinson’s is very similar to the one that causes dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). In Parkinson’s dementia the movement symptoms are the first to show followed later by dementia, whereas for DLB it’s typically the other way around.”

Symptoms of Parkinson’s Dementia

Parkinson’s dementia, like any type of dementia, is an individualised condition and symptoms can vary from person to person, however there can be similarities in what people experience. The symptoms can also present closely to those of dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB) and can include:

  • Difficulties with perception of what is around them
  • Problems with memory and thinking
  • Focussing problems
  • Forgetfulness and memory difficulties
  • Disturbed sleep and problems staying awake
  • Delusions and hallucinations
  • Appetite changes
  • Symptoms that affect mood, such as depression, anxiety, and apathy

Parkinson’s Dementia Risk Factors

There is no way to guarantee the prevention of dementia, regardless of the type, and no test is available on the NHS that can identify whether someone will go on to develop dementia. Alzheimer’s Research UK tells us this is because “carrying a risk gene does not mean you will go on to develop the condition due to other contributing risk factors like age and lifestyle.” When someone is living with Parkinson’s disease, time is usually the crucial factor that will determine whether a dementia diagnosis is Parkinson’s disease dementia, or dementia with Lewy Bodies, as their cause and symptoms are very similar. If the person’s dementia develops “before, at the same time as, or within one year of the onset of symptoms of Parkinson’s disease” then, the Alzheimer’s Association tells us, the diagnosis will be dementia with Lewy Bodies, whereas if the dementia develops “at least one year (and usually several years) after the onset of symptoms of Parkinson’s disease” then the diagnosis will be Parkinson’s disease dementia.

Studies have shown that on average the development time from Parkinson’s disease to Parkinson’s disease dementia (PDD) is approximately ten years, and that around three quarters of people living with Parkinson’s disease for more than ten years will develop dementia. This does vary from person to person though and there is no guarantee that PDD will occur. According to the NHS, “what’s good for your heart is also good for your brain” and while some risk factors cannot be avoided – such as age – improved lifestyle choices such as quitting smoking and maintaining a healthy weight, can have a beneficial effect. Not everyone who is living with Parkinson’s is definitely going to develop PDD, but if certain symptoms are present, it will increase the risk of them doing so. These include the person experiencing hallucinations when they don’t have other dementia symptoms, being excessively sleepy during the daytime, and postural instability – including balancing and falling.

Care Options for Parkinson’s Dementia

Helping Hands have spent more than three decades working tirelessly to support customers across England and Wales who are living with Parkinson’s, and Parkinson’s disease dementia. We specialise in person-centred care, where we put the individual at the heart of their own care package, keeping them comfortable and happy at home. We offer both visiting and live-in care, tailoring it perfectly to what an individual needs. This can include support with mobility, medication, housework, preparing meals, getting out of bed, and personal care. Ultimately our carers are there to support our customers to live the life they want, and to ensure their routine proceeds smoothly.

We get to know the conditions that our customers are living with so that we can offer detailed, knowledgeable care, and because we give our carers chances to progress and learn new skills, we are experienced with our customers’ support needs, whether straightforward or complex.

Our carers have a range of skills and attributes that are beneficial for people living with Parkinson’s, or Parkinson’s disease dementia, such as patience, compassion, empathy, and self-motivation. They are also driven to provide the best quality Parkinson’s and Parkinson’s disease dementia care for their customer, and work hard to learn everything about that individual’s needs. They’ll help them to retain a sense of normalcy; encouraging them to lead a healthy lifestyle by promoting exercise and nutrition when appropriate. They’ll also have naturally occurring qualities for caring about others, offering a listening ear when necessary, and supporting their customers to socialise and enjoy their local community. They’ll also be a reassuring presence for loved ones who are worried about their family member, looking out for a change in their condition or deteriorating symptoms.

We also offer respite care so that if the customer is usually looked after by family members, we can step in at short notice to ensure they get a chance to take a break. We work hard to provide a seamless continuity of care, meaning family get an opportunity to recharge their batteries and return to caregiving refreshed and renewed.

Our incredible carers make a huge difference to the lives of customers living with Parkinson’s and PDD, and can visit someone’s home from just 30 minutes per day. Our live-in carers take things a step further and ensure someone is supported around the clock, for reassurance day and night. In addition, because our services are fully supported by the Care Quality Commission and Care Inspectorate Wales, we guarantee to always deliver exceptionally high standards.