Did you know that April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month? Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease that impacts the substantia nigra part of the brain. This causes motor challenges including tremors, limb rigidity and balance issues. It is a progressive disease that, like Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, can be difficult to diagnose and the cause is unclear. Early signs of Parkinson’s can include a tremor, small handwriting and gait changes.
For anywhere from 50-80% of individuals living with Parkinson’s disease, it can progress into Parkinson’s Dementia. People may experience a decline in reasoning and thinking. In the brain, there are similarities between Parkinson Dementia and Lewy Bodies Dementia (LBD). People living with Parkinson dementia can experience the visual hallucinations and paranoia often seen in LBD.
Because people living with this disease have both motor problems, in addition to cognitive challenges, they may have more difficulty socially according to the Parkinson’s Foundation. While people living with Alzheimer’s may be able to complete physical tasks with cueing from a loved one, a person living with Parkinson’s dementia may struggle to not only initiate the task, but physically complete it. Additionally, symptoms such as hallucinations can be difficult to navigate as a caregiver as they can be unsettling and confusing.
With 2% of the 65 and older population diagnosed with Parkinson’s, and a majority of those individuals developing dementia, it’s important to understand the challenges of those impacted by the disease and raise awareness of its presence in our communities.
This month, check out some of these programs working to support individuals living with Parkinson’s dementia and their care partners.
Parkinson’s Foundation Helpline: 1.800.473.4636
Dance for Parkinson’s: https://danceforparkinsons.org/
Singing with Parkinson’s: https://singingwithparkinsons.com/