The Journey of Living with Parkinson’s Disease Dementia

When you or a loved one are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and dementia, you might not know exactly what to expect. From what common symptoms are exhibited and how it will change you or a loved one, to what you’ll need to consider as a caregiver and family member or friend, it’s far from a simple journey. Parkinson’s disease and dementia affect people differently and being prepared and informed can help to make the journey easier. “There’s a lot to learn about Parkinson’s and dementia,” says Jimmie Fay Griffin, Executive Director at YourLife™ of Tallahassee, a Memory Care Assisted Living community in Tallahassee, Florida. “Parkinson’s disease dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Association® can occur at least a year after diagnosis and causes a decline in reasoning and thinking. Often, it can begin as movement issues including tremors, shaking, muscle stiffness and lack of facial expression. Over time, mental functions can be affected, leading to issues paying attention, making sound judgments, and completing tasks. According to the Alzheimer's Association, Parkinson's disease is a common neurological disorder in older adults with nearly 2% of those over age 65 being affected. It was also found in recent studies that 50 to 80% of those with Parkinson's may experience dementia.”

Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease Dementia

Parkinson’s disease dementia affects not only the mind but the body and emotions as well. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, some of the most common symptoms those on this journey will face include:

  • Changes in memory, concentration and judgement. Dementia greatly affects memory as time goes on because of deterioration in the brain. Those with Parkinson’s disease dementia might notice trouble remembering important dates and familiar routines, and may have issues handling and managing money and concentrating on everyday tasks.
  • Speech issues. Do you or a loved one notice muffled speech or do people have trouble understanding you? This is often a symptom of Parkinson’s disease dementia.
  • Hallucinations and delusions. It’s common for those with dementia to hallucinate and see things that aren’t really there. You may also notice that you or a loved one begin to become paranoid or accuse others stealing items that may have actually been misplaced.
  • Depression, irritability and anxiety. Whether this is a result of frustration with their journey or is simply a mood swing, it’s common for those with dementia to become depressed and withdraw from others, become irritable with friends, family and caregivers and become anxious about all the changes and uncertainty they are facing. Try to be understanding or remain as calm as possible. Talk to your doctor if these symptoms become troubling or unbearable.
  • Trouble sleeping. From sleep disturbances and daytime drowsiness, those with this disease may experience some problems with sleep. This can usually be helped with ensuring the environment is comfortable and that daytime naps are reduced. It can also help to limit shadows and provide a comfort item such as a blanket or stuffed animal.

Parkinson’s disease dementia damages and destroys brain cells and worsens over time. It depends on the person how quickly this progresses. Unfortunately, there are no treatments to halt the spread of this, but it might be possible to help improve symptoms. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, you should talk to a doctor and see which of the available options would be beneficial for you or a loved one, whether it includes antipsychotic drugs or cholinesterase inhibitors. If you are serving as a caregiver to a loved one with dementia, it’s important to realize that however your loved one acts towards you, it isn’t them. They may accuse you of things, be agitated and aggressive and have mood swings, but it’s important to not take it personally; it’s the disease talking. It’s important to find ways to cope and redirect, including speaking calmly, listening to their feelings and providing them with reassurance. It’s also important to care for yourself. Support groups, respite care and time to yourself can help you feel relaxed, refreshed and ready to face whatever the next day brings. For more information about what to expect when you or your loved one has Parkinson’s disease dementia, or to learn about how YourLife™ of Tallahassee can help provide support with your journey, give us a call today at 850-250-5671.

Inspired ● Engaged ● Fulfilled

If someone you love is living with memory loss, you want the very best for them. You’ll find it at YourLife™ of Tallahassee. Because Memory Care is all that we do, we have the unique ability to focus all our energy, attention and resources into creating an environment that caters to each resident’s needs, preferences and abilities while providing unequaled peace of mind and support for families. We see each resident as an individual because we understand that each resident has their own story. Using this idea, we develop personally inspired care plans that value and support each person’s independence while creating beautiful days. No matter how much care they need, our team of attentive, caring YourLife™ Personal Care Specialists can provide assistance with all activities of daily living while providing reminders, guidance, support and cues. Even better, residents and their families experience true peace of mind knowing that expert care is on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Our personal touch doesn’t stop at our care. In fact, it’s only just the beginning. We create days that leave residents feeling Inspired. Engaged. Fulfilled through our signature programming, YourStory. With individual experiences centered around each resident, engaging outings, services and amenities, activities, dining and more, we create opportunities to learn and pursue new endeavors. At YourLife™ of Tallahassee, everything was designed for you, but it is defined by you, creating a lifestyle that makes every day a joy. Contact us to learn more! Call us at 850-250-5671 for more information or to schedule a personal visit today.