Is It Parkinson’s Disease or Something Else?

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A senior you love has been given a diagnosis that may not be accurate. Is it Parkinson’s disease, or something else? Each year, a great many American seniors are told they have Parkinson’s disease, yet they don’t. For a lot of these patients, the correct diagnosis is a very similar but not as well-known condition: dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB).

Dementia with Lewy bodies impacts as many as 1.3 million Americans, according to the Lewy Body Dementia Association (LBDA). That estimate could possibly be too low since some individuals who’ve been incorrectly identified as having Parkinson’s still have not been given a correct diagnosis.

Symptoms for the two diseases are often very similar, especially when they progress, given that they exhibit the same underlying modifications in the brain.

Below are the symptoms of dementia with Lewy bodies you should be familiar with, as reported by the LBDA:

  • Intensifying dementia – Increasing confusion and reduced attention and executive function are frequent. Memory impairment may not be evident during the early stages.
  • Recurrent visual hallucinations – These are commonly complicated and detailed.
  • Hallucinations of other senses – Touch or hearing are the most typical.
  • REM sleep behavior disorder – This can show up years ahead of the onset of both dementia and Parkinson’s.
  • Frequent falls and fainting – Includes unexplained loss in consciousness.
  • Other psychiatric disturbances – Most of these differ from patient to patient. 

Is a correct diagnosis really crucial? Diagnosing DLB promptly and accurately may mean the difference between life and death, according to Howard I. Hurtig, M.D., Chair, Department of Neurology, Pennsylvania Hospital and Elliott Professor of Neurology. Improperly treating DLB can not only trigger significant adverse side effects, but could even worsen symptoms and prevent appropriate symptom management.

Some of the confusion among medical professionals comes from the fact that both Parkinson’s disease and DLB come under the same umbrella of Lewy body dementias. 

The main difference is in the “one-year rule” associated with cognitive symptoms. Patients with Parkinson’s disease in most cases do not present cognitive issues until at least a year after mobility symptoms start. DLB is typically the exact opposite, with cognitive symptoms appearing first for at least a year.

Happier Home Care, the leading provider of home care in Pasadena and the surrounding areas, delivers high-quality senior home care services to those with Parkinson’s and many other chronic health conditions. Give us a call at 818-651-6679 to arrange a free home care assessment, to find answers to your questions, and to learn more about how our in-home care can make life better for someone you love.