What is Parkinson’s Dementia?

  • September 19, 2019

Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is an illness most of us have heard of, even if we don’t understand what it really is. Classified as a neurodegenerative disease, PD results from the body not being able to produce enough dopamine, the chemical required for smooth muscle movement.

As the disease progresses, an adult with Parkinson’s will have difficulty with balance, tremors, and rigidity in their limbs. A lesser known side effect of PD is dementia. This aspect of the disease can be an additional challenge for an adult with PD and their family caregivers. .Parkinson’s dementia is common during the later stages of the disease.

Researchers estimate 50 to 80 percent of adults with Parkinson’s will eventually develop dementia. As is true of other types of dementia, the condition can create unique safety issues for the person with PD and for their caregivers.

Understanding Parkinson’s Dementia

The symptoms of dementia caused by Parkinson’s are similar to other forms of dementia. While the disease is different for every person, the symptoms below are among the most common:

  • Memory loss
  • Forgetfulness
  • Problems with attention span
  • Anxiety and agitation
  • Difficulty maintaining a conversation
  • Sleep challenges
  • Hallucinations
  • Quick to anger
  • Easily tearful
  • Depression
  • Difficulty finding the right words
  • Decline in judgment

Senior Living to Support Adults with PD 

The average age for a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease is 60. Patients and their spouses are usually leading busy lives when PD makes itself known. The person might be at the height of their career and looking forward to retirement. Some have kids in college. It’s a scenario that can create both physical and financial challenges for the entire family.

In the mid-to-late stages of the disease, the support of an adult day program for daytime hours may allow a spouse to continue working. A home care aide might also be a short-term solution.

Other families turn to assisted living communities for support. Short-term respite care services allow family caregivers to take a break for a week or two. As the senior loved one’s needs increase, moving to the same assisted living community on a permanent basis can be an effective solution. Because the family has already built a relationship with the team members, the transition is usually smoother.

Assisted living communities allow an adult with Parkinson’s to reside in their own apartment knowing the support of caregivers is nearby when needed. Caregivers can help with activities of daily living, such as bathing and grooming, as well as medication management. Healthy meals are provided, as are housekeeping and laundry services.

If an adult with PD develops dementia, they can transfer to the community’s memory care program. Memory care is designed to support the unique needs of people with dementia. From dedicated dining services to meaningful life enrichment 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 get to know your local Five Star Senior Living community. Our experienced team can help you learn more about your options for care and support.


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