There are many types of dementia. Alzheimer’s is the most common and well-known type. Alzheimer’s is estimated to account for up to 80% of all cases of dementia. Like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease (PD) is classified as a neurodegenerative disease. It occurs when the body doesn’t produce enough dopamine, the chemical required for smooth muscle movement.

As PD progresses, it can cause balance problems as well as tremors and rigidity in the limbs. Those are the symptoms most people associate with PD, but a lesser-known side effect of Parkinson’s is dementia.

Common during the later stages of PD, this aspect of the disease can be a challenge for family caregivers. Researchers believe up to 80% of adults with Parkinson’s will eventually develop dementia. As is true of other types of dementia, the condition can create unique safety issues.

Understanding Parkinson’s Dementia

The symptoms of Parkinson’s dementia are similar to other forms of dementia. While the disease impacts every person differently, the symptoms below are among the most common:

  • Forgetfulness
  • Memory loss
  • Hallucinations
  • Depression
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Anxiety and agitation
  • Change in disposition
  • Inability to carry on a conversation
  • Insomnia and other sleep disorders
  • Quick to anger or become tearful
  • Difficulty finding the right words
  • Loss of judgment

Supporting the Needs of an Adult with Parkinson’s

Unlike Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease impacts people at a younger age, usually around 60. The person might be towards the end of their career and looking forward to retirement when they are diagnosed. Some have kids in college. It’s a scenario that can lead to both physical and financial challenges for the entire family.

In the mid-to-late stages of the disease, families might find an adult day program meets the person’s needs during daytime hours. That can allow a spouse to continue working. Hiring an in-home caregiver might be another short-term solution to consider, especially if safety is a concern.

Other families turn to assisted living communities for support because they offer a variety of solutions. Short-term respite care at an assisted living for a week or two allows family caregivers to take a break. As their loved one’s needs increase, the transition to assisted living on a long-term basis goes more smoothly. The staff and the new resident are already familiar with each other.

Assisted living communities combine support with independence. An adult with PD can live in their own apartment knowing the support of caregivers is nearby. Caregivers also help with activities of daily living, such as bathing and grooming. They also provide medication management services. Healthy meals, housekeeping, laundry services, and transportation are included or available. Equally important is the wide range of daily life enrichment activities. That helps improve quality of life.

If an adult with PD develops dementia after moving to assisted living, they can transfer to the community’s specialized dementia care unit. These programs are designed to support the unique needs of people with dementia. From dedicated dining services to meaningful daily activities, memory care allows residents to live their best quality of life despite the disease.

If an adult in your family has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease or Parkinson’s dementia, we encourage you to call the Heritage Senior Community nearest you. One of our experienced team members can help you learn more about respite, assisted living, and specialized dementia care for your loved one.