Dementia is often thought of a side effect or complication of Parkinson’s Disease. Medical journals often list it that way, and coding guidelines even list it as a subcode under Parkinsonism. But according to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation and other sources, Parkinson’s Disease Dementia is actually its own disease, one of 11 types of dementia. So, while they share some underlying causes, Parkinson’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease Dementia are considered separate diseases and have no symptoms in common.
A Lewy Body Dementia
Parkinson’s Disease Dementia (PDD) along with Alzheimer’s Disease (DLB) are the two types of Lewy Body Dementias. Lewy bodies, discovered by the German-born Jewish American neurologist Frederic Lewy, cause abnormal deposits of the protein alpha-synuclein in to the brain cells. These protein deposits change brain chemistry and can have a characteristic effect on thinking, movement, behavior, and mood issues associated with PDD and DLB.
So, What’s the Difference?
Looking at the early symptoms of PD and PDD side-by-side make it clear that they are two different diseases:
Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms
• Small Handwriting
• Loss of Smell
• Trouble Sleeping
• Trouble Moving or Walking
• A Soft or Low Voice
• Masked Face
• Dizziness or Fainting
• Stooping or Hunching Over Parkinson’s Disease Dementia Symptoms
• Changes in memory, concentration and judgment
• Trouble interpreting visual information
• Muffled speech
• Visual hallucinations
• Delusions, especially paranoid ideas
• Irritability and anxiety
• Sleep disturbances
Both Parkinson’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease Dementia are diagnosed based on a doctor’s observation of symptoms. Since Parkinson’s Disease Dementia develops as part of Parkinson’s disease, some patients may have a combination of the symptoms associated with both diseases.
Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s Disease Dementia?
The primary difference between dementia associated with Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease Dementia is the timing of when symptoms of dementia begin:
• Lewy Body Dementia (associated with Alzheimer’s Disease) – cognitive symptoms without Parkinsonian symptoms or that begin prior to or within one year of onset of movement symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
• Parkinson’s Disease Dementia – cognitive symptoms begin more than one year after movement symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
Here at Avalon Memory Care, our dedicated professionals provide continuous care in Dallas, Houston, and Arlington, including medication management. Our specially designed and comfortably furnished residences are home to individuals with any type of dementia, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease dementia. Families can call (469) 373-8671 to inquire about available accommodations.