Page 15 - Senior Times South Central Michigan - September 2016 - 23-09
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Parkinson's Disease
other reason such as diet or medicine that would cause you to have trouble moving your bowels, you should speak with your doctor.
7) A Soft or Low Voice
Have other people told you that your voice is very soft when you speak in a normal tone, or that you sound hoarse? If there has been a change in your voice you should see your doctor about whether it could be Parkinson’s disease. Sometimes you might think other people are losing their hearing, when really you are speaking more softly.
What is normal? A chest cold or other virus can cause your voice to sound different but you should go back to sounding the same when you get over your cough or cold.
8) Masked Face
Have you been told that you have a serious, depressed or mad look on your face more often, even when you are not in a bad mood? This serious looking face is called masking. Also, if you or other people notice that you have a blank stare or do not blink your eyes very often, you should ask your doctor about Parkinson’s dis- ease.
What is normal? Some medicines can cause you to have the same type of serious or staring look, but you would go back to the way you were after you stopped the medication.
9) Dizziness or Fainting
Do you notice that you often feel dizzy when you stand up out of a chair? Feeling dizzy or fainting can be signs of low blood pressure and can be linked to Parkinson’s disease.
What is normal? Everyone has had a time when they stood up and felt dizzy, but if it happens on a regular basis you should see your doctor.
10) Stooping or Hunching Over
Are you not standing up as straight as you used to? If you or your fam- ily or friends notice that you seem
to be stooping, leaning or slouching when you stand, it could be a sign of Parkinson’s disease. Poor balance can also happen because of the loss of reflexes that help posture. This causes unsteady balance, which can often lead to falls, as well as poor coordina- tion.
What is normal? If you have pain from an injury or if you are sick, it might cause you to stand crookedly. Also, a problem with your bones can make you hunch over.
The relationship between Parkin- son's disease and dementia
Dementia is a less common feature of Parkinson’s disease. A number
of people with Parkinson’s disease will develop Parkinson’s disease dementia. Parkinson’s patients who experience hallucinations and more severe motor control problems are at risk for dementia. For those patients with Parkinson’s disease who go on to develop dementia, there can be a 10- to 15-year lag time between their Parkinson’s diagnosis and the onset of dementia according to
Parkinson’s disease dementia is different from a similar disorder, known as Lewy Body Dementia (or Dementia with Lewy Bodies). Lewy Body Dementia is characterized by fluctuations in alertness and attention, recurrent visual hallucinations, and Parkinsonian motor symptoms like rigidity and the loss of spontaneous movement. In this disorder, cognitive problems such as hallucinations tend to occur much earlier in the course
of the disease and often precede the difficulties with walking and motor control.
Additionally, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease are both common in the elderly, especially in those over 85. Therefore, patients with Parkinson’s who develop dementia may develop Alzheimer’s dementia as well.
If a patient with established Par- kinson’s disease develops signs of Alzheimer’s dementia, he or she will probably benefit from medications for Alzheimer’s dementia as well. The similarities in symptoms between Parkinson’s disease, Lewy Body Dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease, can make it difficult to determine the cause of the symptoms. Thus, obtain- ing a thorough consultation with a neurologist may be necessary to make a definitive diagnosis and establish an appropriate plan of care.
Publisher’s Note: This informa- tion was made possible through the generous support of the Medtronic Foundation and thousands of people with Parkinson's and their families. Additional information can be found at
Locally families can reach out to area support groups as well as area Big & Loud programs offered at your local hospital. Senior Health Partners can be a great local resource as well. Contact them at (269) 441-0948.
Senior Times - September 2016
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