Mild Dementia due to Parkinson's disease

Mild Dementia in Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson's disease (PD) is a progressive neurological disorder that affects movement, posture, balance, and coordination. People with PD are at an increased risk of developing cognitive issues, including a particular type of mild dementia, known as Parkinson's disease dementia (PDD).

PDD is caused by a decrease in dopamine production due to the death of cells in the substantia nigra, an area of the brain involved in motor planning and coordination. This disruption of the brain’s neurotransmitter system can lead to cognitive dysfunction including memory problems, impaired language, attention deficits, and difficulty planning and organizing.

For instance, short-term memory deficits and other cognitive issues can make daily activities and conversations difficult. People with PDD may struggle with understanding spoken language, have difficulty following conversations, struggle with writing, and be unable to recall important dates or events.

Other common symptoms include wandering, disorientation, depression, mood changes, hallucinations, anxiety, sleep problems, and apathy. Some people may display behavioural issues and have difficulty controlling their impulses.

How is Mild Dementia Diagnosed in PD patients?

Since loneliness and isolation can be common among PD patients, it is important to watch for any changes in behaviour or mood, and speak to a doctor right away. The doctor may assess the patient’s cognitive ability with scales and evaluations such as the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) or Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE). Some of the other tests a doctor may use include the Frontal Assessment Battery (FAB), Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS), or the Clinical Dementia Rating Scale (CDR).

How is Mild Dementia treated in People with PD

Unfortunately, there is no cure for PDD. However, medication can be used to manage symptoms and make life easier for the patient. Some of the drugs used to treat the condition include:

  • Levodopa – to increase dopamine levels
  • Cholinesterase inhibitors – to increase cognitive functioning
  • Psychoactive drugs – to reduce anxiety
  • Antipsychotics – to reduce hallucinations and delusions

In addition to medication, PD patients may benefit from physical and occupational therapy. These therapies can help improve coordination and mobility, as well as other physical and cognitive issues. Speech therapy can also be helpful for improving communication.

People with PDD may also benefit from social activities, such as support groups, recreational activities, and social events. This can help keep them engaged and connected with their community and can also help prevent feelings of loneliness and isolation.