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Parkinson Disease Dementia (cont.)

How Is Parkinson's Disease Dementia Diagnosed?

There is no definitive medical test that confirms cognitive decline or dementia in Parkinson's disease. The most accurate way to measure cognitive decline is through neuropsychological testing.

  • The testing involves answering questions and performing tasks that have been carefully designed for this purpose. It is carried out by a specialist in this kind of testing.
  • Neuropsychological testing addresses the individual's appearance, mood, anxiety level, and experience of delusions or hallucinations.
  • It assesses cognitive abilities such as memory, attention, orientation to time and place, use of language, and abilities to carry out various tasks and follow instructions.
  • Reasoning, abstract thinking, and problem solving are tested.
  • Neuropsychological testing gives a more accurate diagnosis of the problems and thus can help in treatment planning.
  • The tests are repeated periodically to see how well treatment is working and check for new problems.

Imaging studies: Generally, brain scans such as CT scan and MRI are of little use in diagnosing dementia in people with Parkinson's disease. Positron emission tomographic (PET) scan may help distinguish dementia from depression and similar conditions in Parkinson's disease.

What Is the Treatment for Parkinson's Disease Dementia?

There is no cure for dementia in Parkinson's disease. Rather, the focus is on treating specific symptoms such as depression, anxiety, and psychotic behavior. A specialist in these disorders (psychiatrist) may be consulted for treatment recommendations.

What Is the Self-Care at Home for Parkinson's Disease Dementia?

Protein in the diet may affect the absorption of levodopa, the major medication used to treat Parkinson's disease. Fluctuations in the level of levodopa may worsen some behavioral and cognitive symptoms. A low-protein diet may reduce fluctuations in dopamine levels. In some patients with these fluctuations, dietary changes can improve symptoms. However, it is important to ensure that the person is getting adequate calories and other nutrients.

People with Parkinson's disease should remain as active as possible. Physical therapy helps the person maintain mobility.

In general, people with Parkinson's disease plus dementia should no longer drive vehicles. Movement problems may prevent quick reactions in hazardous driving situations. Certain medications, especially those given to treat symptoms of dementia, may make them less alert. However, this should be determined on an individual basis and in compliance with the laws of the state.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/8/2016

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Parkinson disease (Parkinson's disease, PD) is a disabling, progressive condition that is predominantly thought of as a movement disorder.

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