Alzheimer’s And Other Progressive Dementias
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, but it’s not the only one. Dementia can also be caused by other diseases, such as frontotemporal lobe dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease. These, along with Alzheimer’s, are called progressive dementias because they progress over time and are not curable. Traumatic brain injuries can also cause this kind of dementia. Since Alzheimer’s is just one possible cause of dementia, all people with Alzheimer’s have dementia, but not all people with dementia have Alzheimer’s.
The Difference Between Alzheimers And Parkinsons
Medically Reviewed by: Dr. BautistaUpdated on: September 3, 2021
Neurodegenerative disorders refer to a wide range of diseases and conditions that are characterized by progressive damage to the function or structure of nerves. While there are numerous known neurodegenerative disorders, the two most common and well-known are Alzheimers disease and Parkinsons disease.
Based on calculations, estimates suggest that about 6.2 million Americans will be living with Alzheimers disease in 2021. About one million Americans are estimated to be living with Parkinsons disease.
The two diseases are frequently grouped together, and while it may seem that Parkinsons falls into the category of diseases similar to Alzheimers due to similar clinical and neuropathologic features, Alzheimers and Parkinsons disease are uniquely different. They manifest differently, and they come with different forms of treatment to manage symptoms . Learn more about the difference between Alzheimers and Parkinsons below.
Symptoms Of Parkinsons Disease
Unlike Alzheimers, Parkinsons disease specifically affects movement. Early signs of the disease can be easy to miss or ignore, but the most common manifestation is a tremor. This is characterized by involuntary shaking that usually begins in your hands or fingers, though it can potentially affect any part of your body. Your hand may tremble when you are at rest, or you may unconsciously rub your thumb and index finger together .
Parkinsons disease can also result in bradykinesia, or slowed movement. This can create the feeling of having your feet stuck to the floor. Your gait may change to shorter steps when you walk, and you may have difficulty with general movements, like trying to get out of a chair.
You may also experience muscle rigidity or stiffness. This can further limit your range of motion and make movement painful.
This can also extend to any automatic or unconscious movements. You may have trouble blinking, emoting, or swinging your arms when you walk. In fact, many people experience a masked face where they constantly have a mad, sad, or serious look even when they are in perfectly good moods.
Along with its effects on movement, Parkinsons disease can affect other things involving your motor function, including:
- Changes to your handwriting
- Slurring or speaking softer, lower, or without your usual inflections
- Poor posture
- Poor sleep
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The Differences Between Alzheimers And Parkinsons
16 October, 2020
Do you know the differences between Alzheimers and Parkinsons? First of all, we must say that both diseases constitute two of the causes of dementia. Now, lets be a bit more specific. According to data from the WHO , dementia due to Alzheimers disease represents 60-70% of all cases of dementia in the world.
However, its important to keep in mind that theyre very different diseases. Additionally, we must make clear that having either condition doesnt always lead to the development of dementia . In this sense, we know that between 20-60% of people with Parkinsons disease end up developing dementia.
Buter et al. conducted a study that was published in the journal Neurology. It was conducted with 233 patients with Parkinsons disease. The researchers were able to observe that about 60% of them developed Parkinsons dementia in a period of 12 years.
So whats dementia? It refers to the set of symptoms that arise as a consequence of neurological damage or disease. These symptoms involve the loss or weakening of the mental faculties and mainly affect three different areas: cognitive , behavioral , and personality .
What To Do If Youre Worried About Your Memory
If you suspect youre experiencing any warning signs of dementia , the first thing to do is see a physician. Dr. Scharre recommends asking for a cognitive assessment at your annual physical so your results can be compared year-over-year and declines can be identified and addressed right awayjust like a colonoscopy, blood pressure screening, or cholesterol testing.
As with any medical condition, typically the earlier you identify it, the more options you have for treatment and typically the better you do, he says. Some forms of dementia have treatable causes while others like Alzheimers are also treatable, just not reversible or curable. Thatnew medication the FDA approved for Alzheimers, for example, only works in the mild cognitive impairment stagethats where its sweet spot is and if you start getting even a little bit more than mild dementia its not useful.
Wait So What Is Parkinsonism
Parkinsonism refers to the motor symptoms that are typically associated with PD, such as tremors, stiffness, and walking/balance problems. Both PD and LBD are forms of Parkinsonism, meaning that PD patients and LBD patients may experience these motor symptoms.2 Because the Parkinsonism motor symptoms of PD and LBD can be very similar, it can be difficult to differentiate between the two conditions.
Differences Between Pdd And Dlb
So, how are PDD and DLB different from each other? That depends on whom you ask. Some clinicians feel that these two conditions are simply different versions of the same disorder. In fact, some professionals use the terms interchangeably. Yet, according to currently agreed-upon diagnostic guidelines, there are some differences.
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Age Of Onset And Prevalence
Finally, continuing with the differences between Parkinsons disease and Alzheimers, we know that Parkinsons appears before Alzheimers , while Alzheimers usually appears a little later, from 65 years of age onwards.
On the other hand, in terms of dementias, the prevalence of Alzheimers dementia is higher , and this is 5.5% in Spain and 6.4% in Europe.
Caring For Someone With Parkinsons
Practice patience and understanding when dealing with Parkinsons. You may be very frustrated and challenged as a caregiver, but those with Parkinsons are just as frustrated. Their physical and mental conditions can be debilitating, depressing, and humiliating.
Diet and nutrition can have a huge impact on the health and comfort of a Parkinson patient. Eating well, getting more rest, sleeping well, fresh air, and exercise can make a difference. Getting the right medication and complementary therapies is also important.
As Parkinsons impacts a patients motor skills, modifications to the living environment may have to be made to accommodate wheelchairs and limited mobility issues. Professional in-home assistance for Parkinsons can allow Parkinson patients to remain independent and can enhance quality of life.
Most importantly, seek help and support from family, friends, and caregiving support groups. Take advantage of the resources in your community. Shouldering all the burden can take a toll on a caregiver.
Take care of yourself or you wont be able to take care of your loved one. Follow the preventive advice provided above for yourself as well, and take deep breaths!
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What’s The Difference Between Alzheimer’s Disease And Dementia
ByRemy Melina09 September 2010
Dementia is an umbrella term that refers to a group of physical and mental symptoms that are severe enough to interfere with a person’s daily functions. The symptoms can be caused by various diseases or disorders.
Language difficulty, memory loss, poor judgment, confusion and changes in personality and mood are some of the symptoms of dementia, according to the Mayo Clinic. People with dementia may also lose their ability to solve problems or control their emotions. Other symptoms include difficulty with coordination and motor functions, paranoia, agitation, hallucinations and withdrawal from work or social activities.
In order to be diagnosed with dementia, the person must show serious problems with two or more brain functions, such as memory and language, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
Doctors use a battery of screenings to determine the cause of the dementia. These include blood tests, mental status evaluations, neuropsychological testing and brain scans. In 90 percent of cases, doctors can accurately diagnose the cause of dementia symptoms , according to the Mayo Clinic.
Causes of general dementia include: Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, pugilistic Parkinson’s syndrome and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Some causes of dementia, such as a vitamin deficiency or drug interaction, are treatable and even reversible, according to the Mayo Clinic.
How Is Delirium Diagnosed
No laboratory test can diagnose delirium. Doctors should get a detailed medical history to identify the condition. However, if a patient is experiencing delirium, they may have trouble providing this information. Getting friends and family involved may be the key to diagnosing and treating this issue.
If your loved one has recently experienced mood, physical or mental changes, delirium could be the problem. The likelihood is even higher for people who fall in the high-risk category.
As an external observer, take notes about whats going on. Telling a doctor that your friend or parent is confused isnt as helpful as explaining what they were confused about, when they experienced confusion and what they said or did.
Doctors often use the Confusion Assessment Method to observe whether the patient can think, speak and move normally. They may also do laboratory tests to detect an underlying disease. Delirium is often a symptom of another medical condition, such as:
- Organic brain syndrome
- Certain infectious diseases
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Risk Factors For Dementia
Progressive dementias are part of a disease process and can’t be prevented, but you may be able to reduce your risk of some other types of dementia by taking these steps:
- Reduce your risk of brain injury. Wear helmets when participating in activities that could result in a head injury. Wear your seat belt when in a motor vehicle. Seek medical help if you do have a head injury or suspect you might have a concussion, particularly if you already had a previous injury.
- Watch for signs and symptoms of infection and seek treatment as soon as possible if you think an infection is present.
- Report any drug side effects to your doctor or pharmacist.
- See your doctor if there’s a change in your mental state so you can be evaluated for possible causes.
What Is Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease was named by James Parkinson nearly 100 years before Dr. Alois Alzheimer described the type of dementia called Alzheimer’s disease .
This disease was colloquially referred to as the “shaking palsy” by James Parkinson. It is diagnosed in people who exhibit at least two of these three symptoms: slowed movements , muscle rigidity, and tremor even at rest.
Other recognized associated signs of Parkinson’s Disease includes having an expressionless face, difficulty swallowing, cramped handwriting, trouble getting out of a chair, and a shuffling gait. Many of the symptoms are a result of nerve cell death in those that produce dopamine.
In addition to movement-related symptoms, Parkinson’s symptoms may be non-motor. Examples of non-motor symptoms include indifference, depression, constipation, sleep disorders, loss of the ability to smell, and cognitive impairment.
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Dementia With Lewy Bodies
Of people with dementia, the type of parkinsonism called dementia with Lewy bodies is the second most common cause of dementia, after Alzheimers disease in the elderly. Many are diagnosed at first with Alzheimers disease due to memory or cognitive disorders and then later as dementia with Lewy bodies as the motor symptoms common to Parkinsons progress.
Lewy bodies are abnormal deposits of protein on the nerve cells in the brain. If the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter, produced by those nerve cells is disrupted due to the buildup of Lewy bodies on those cells, too little dopamine is produced, which can cause the symptoms of Parkinsons.
What Is Parkinson Disease
Parkinson disease is a movement disorder. It can cause the muscles to tighten and become rigid This makes it hard to walk and do other daily activities. People with Parkinsons disease also have tremors and may develop cognitive problems, including memory loss and dementia.
Parkinson disease is most common in people who are older than 50. The average age at which it occurs is 60. But some younger people may also get Parkinson disease. When it affects someone younger than age 50, it’s called early-onset Parkinson disease. You may be more likely to get early-onset Parkinson disease if someone in your family has it. The older you are, the greater your risk of developing Parkinson disease. It’s also much more common in men than in women.
Parkinson disease is a chronic and progressive disease. It doesn’t go away and continues to get worse over time.
Number Of People Affected
Parkinsons disease is thought to affect about 2 percent of Americans over 65. Of those, about 50 to 80 percent will go on to develop Parkinsons-related dementia.1 The Parkinsons Foundation estimates that nearly 1 million Americans will be living with Parkinsons by 2020. The disease affects 1.5 times more men than women.7
Approximately 5.8 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimers disease. That number is expected to increase to 14 million by 2050.8 There is little difference between numbers of men and women who develop Alzheimers, but there are more women with the disease, because women tend to live longer than men.3
The Difference Between Parkinsons Disease And Lewy Body Dementia
One of the most confusing concepts to explain in the clinic is the difference between Parkinsons Disease, Parkinsons Disease Dementia and Lewy Body Dementia. Ultimately people with Parkinsons can look very similar with motor and non-motor problems. This is particularly tricky when PwP first present but the easiest way to consider Lewy Body Dementia is like having a very aggressive progression of Parkinsons where patients are dementing in the first year of their condition whereas this process is much slower when patients develop Parkinsons Disease Dementia. Indeed, clinically Lewy Body Dementia patients look like they have a cross between Parkinsons and Alzheimers, which is actually close to what is seen down the microscope when researchers study the brain. Understanding the differences between Parkinsons Disease and Lewy Body Dementia is not only difficult for patients and their families but has led some professional groups to try and lump all of these patients together under one umbrella, which probably does little to help individual families appreciate what the future holds.
Hopefully this video will help you to gain a more complete understanding of the differences between Parkinsons Disease, Parkinsons Disease Dementia and Lewy Body Dementia.
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How Alzheimers Is Different
At its onset, Alzheimers tends to affect more of your learning and memory than other types of dementia, which might be more likely to impact your planning or language. In the brain of a person with Alzheimers disease, there are buildups of beta amyloid protein fragments between nerve cells as well as tangles of the protein tau inside cells. Scientists dont know exactly how these plaques and tangles contribute to Alzheimers disease, but some believe they throw off communication between nerve cells and interfere with normal cell processes, according to the Alzheimers Association. As the disease progresses and more of the brain is affected, a person may experience behavior changes, confusion, delusions, and difficulty speaking or walking. Other types of dementia can progress differently, depending on what parts of the brain are affected.
Things You Should Know About The Link Between Parkinsons And Dementia
Both Parkinsons disease and dementia were ravaging the brain and behavior of actor Robin Williams before his death, but at the time, he didnt realize he had the latter.
Despite the fact that the signs of this combination can be confusing, the double diagnosis of Parkinsons and dementia impacts a large number of people. Of the one million people who have Parkinsons in the U.S., 50 to 80 percent may have dementiaeither as a result of Parkinsons pathology, or separately.
Robin Williams widow, Susan, wrote an editorial published in Neurology that was addressed to neurologists after his death. In it, she shared what it was like seeing her husband experience both Parkinsons disease and Lewy body dementia firsthand.
My hope is that it will help you understand your patients along with their spouses and caregivers a little more, Susan wrote.
Williams was first diagnosed with Parkinsons disease, which at first seemed to provide some answers for his out-of-character symptoms.
But it wasnt until after his death that an autopsy revealed he had been in the later stages of Lewy body dementiaa common form of dementia characterized by deposits of Lewy body proteins in the brain, which can impact physical movement, mood, memory and behavior.
I will never know the true depth of his suffering, nor just how hard he was fighting, Susan wrote. But from where I stood, I saw the bravest man in the world playing the hardest role of his life.
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Whats The Difference Between Corticobasal Degeneration And Parkinsons
The main difference between CBD and Parkinsons is that it usually starts on one side with the gradual loss of use of one hand or leg , and there may be little flicks of involuntary muscle jerks. Walking and balance difficulties usually occur later in CBD than in Parkinsons. Also, in CBD, a person may have trouble with purposeful movements, such as buttoning a shirt or cutting food.
For more information on corticobasal degeneration, read this information page.