Dear Donna,

My dad has Parkinson’s disease dementia (PDD). What challenges are associated with the disease, and how can I make his life easier? As I will be his primary caregiver, I’m trying to learn everything I can.


Valerie from Saline, MI

Caring for a Loved One with Parkinson’s Disease Dementia

Dear Valerie,

Parkinson’s disease is a medical condition that affects a person’s movements. Fifty to eighty percent of people with Parkinson’s develop dementia as their disease progresses. To be considered PDD, a person’s condition must affect their cognitive functioning at least a year after they started experiencing physical symptoms of the disease.

If you have a loved one with PDD, you are likely aware of the unique challenges experienced by those affected. Here are a few tips for PDD caregivers.

Challenges Associated with PDD

  1. Be mindful of the signs.

There are various symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease, and each person is different. Tremors, shakiness, and a lack of facial expressions are a few of the most common. If the disease progresses to PDD, the cognitive symptoms become much more prominent. Your loved one might begin to experience memory loss, difficulty concentrating, and challenges solving problems.

Be patient if tasks take longer to complete or they need additional support.

  1. Don’t take anything personally.

Mood swings, delusions, hallucinations, and paranoia are also common symptoms of PDD. Your loved one may accuse you of things you didn’t do or become quick to anger for no apparent reason.

Out-of-character behaviors can be a result of the disease. Try to keep this in mind before you react, and don’t take anything too close to heart.

  1. Understand that socializing may be difficult.

Socializing is often one of the biggest challenges for a person with PDD. Because the disease affects a person’s motor and cognitive functioning, they might have a hard time communicating. It may take them longer to process information and come up with an appropriate response.

Caregivers can make communicating easier for loved ones with PDD by:

  • Slowing down their rate of speaking
  • Asking questions that only require a “yes” or “no” answer
  • Giving them time to reply

Explore Senior Living Options

Caring for a loved one with Parkinson’s disease can be difficult, and the workload often increases if their condition progresses to PDD. Many caregivers realize they can no longer care for their loved one on their own and begin to explore local senior living communities.

Seniors with PDD and their families often find a memory care program helpful. These communities are staffed with care professionals who understand the challenges associated with PDD. They can keep your loved one active and assist them with activities of daily living.

I hope this helps you better care for your dad.



Heritage Senior Communities Offers Specialized Dementia Care

Heritage Senior Communities, including our Linden Square location, provides quality memory care for seniors with dementia. Our Specialized Dementia Care communities work with seniors experiencing cognitive impairment, including PDD, to provide assistance when needed and improve their overall quality of life.

Contact us today to learn more about our senior living options and to schedule a private tour.