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Parkinson Disease Dementia (cont.)

Parkinson's Disease Dementia Surgery and Gene Therapy

Great strides have been made in surgical treatment of Parkinson's disease. Several different procedures are now available, and they are successful in many patients in relieving movement symptoms. Unfortunately, surgery has no effect on cognitive symptoms. In fact, most people with dementia are not candidates for surgery.

Gene therapy is in its infancy; there are ongoing human and animal trials with various methods (liposomes, viruses) to insert genes into neuronal cells to reduce or stop Parkinson's disease symptoms by causing cells to produce dopamine coded by the newly inserted genes. Early results with the treatment termed ProSavin (modified virus insertion) are encouraging. I However, it is not clear if such therapy could prevent or reverse Parkinson's disease dementia.

Parkinson's Disease Dementia Follow-up, Prevention, and Prognosis

A person with Parkinson's disease and dementia requires regular checkups with his or her health care professional.

  • These checkups allow the health care professional to see how well treatment is working and make adjustments as necessary.
  • They allow detection of new problems of cognition, mood, or behavior that could benefit from treatment.
  • These visits also give the family caregiver(s) an opportunity to discuss problems in the individual's care.

Eventually, the person with Parkinson's disease and dementia will likely become unable to care for himself or herself or even to make decisions about his or her care if the patient lives long enough with Parkinson's disease and dementia.

  • It is best for the person to discuss future care arrangements with family members as early as possible, so that his or her wishes can be clarified and documented for the future.
  • A health care professional can advise patients and caregivers about legal arrangements that should be made to ensure that these wishes are observed.

Parkinson's disease dementia prevention

There is no known way of preventing dementia in Parkinson's disease. However, patients with Parkinson's disease are urged to continue to exercise and live a healthy lifestyle as this may delay or reduce the onset of dementia, although there is no good data to indicate this will occur.

Parkinson's disease dementia prognosis

Persons with Parkinson's disease and dementia have a poorer prognosis than persons with Parkinson's disease without dementia. Their risk of mood disorders and other complications, as well as premature death, is higher.

Support Groups and Counseling for Parkinson's Disease Dementia

If you are a person newly diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, you know that your disease has changed your life drastically. Not only are you losing some of your physical abilities, but you may be starting to lose some of your mental abilities as well. You worry about how long you will be able to continue enjoying relationships with family and friends, activities you enjoy, and independence. You worry about how your family will cope with caring for you and themselves as your disease progresses. You may feel depressed, anxious, even angry and resentful. The best way to deal with these emotions is to express them in some way. For many people, talking about these feelings helps relieve them.

If you are a caregiver for a person with Parkinson's disease and dementia, you know that the disease may tend to be more stressful for the family members than for the affected person. Caring for a person with Parkinson's disease and dementia can be very difficult. It often affects every aspect of life, including family relationships, work, financial status, social life, and physical and mental health. Caregivers may feel unable to cope with the demands of caring for a dependent, difficult relative. Besides the sadness of seeing the effects of your loved one's disease, you may feel frustrated, overwhelmed, resentful, and angry. These feelings may in turn leave caregivers feeling guilty, ashamed, and anxious. Depression is not uncommon. Caregivers should seek support systems to help them adjust to the problems and feelings they may encounter.

Different people, both patients and caregivers, have different thresholds for tolerating these Parkinson's disease dementia challenges.

  • For many people with Parkinson's disease, talking to a close friend or family member may be helpful. For others, talking to a professional counselor or member of clergy is comforting.
  • For caregivers, just "venting" or talking about the frustrations of caregiving can be enormously helpful. Others need more, but may feel uneasy about asking for the help they need. One thing is certain, though: If the caregiver is given no relief, he or she can burn out, develop his or her own mental and physical problems, and become unable to care for the person with Parkinson's disease.

This is why support groups were invented. Support groups are groups of people who have lived through the same difficult experiences and want to help themselves and others by sharing coping strategies. Mental health professionals strongly recommend that affected persons, to the extent they are able, and family caregivers take part in support groups.

In diseases involving dementia, it is mainly the caregivers who are helped by support groups. Support groups serve a number of different purposes for caregivers:

  • The group allows the person to express his or her true feelings in an accepting, nonjudgmental atmosphere.
  • The group's shared experiences allow the caregiver to feel less alone and isolated.
  • The group can offer fresh ideas for coping with specific problems.
  • The group can introduce the caregiver to resources that may be able to provide some relief.
  • The group can give the caregiver the strength he or she needs to ask for help.

Support groups meet in person, on the telephone, or on the Internet. To find a support group that works for you, contact the following organizations. You can also ask a trusted member of your health care team, or go on the Internet. If you do not have access to the Internet, go to the public library.

For more information about support groups, contact these agencies:

  • Parkinson's Alliance - (609) 688-0870 or (800) 579-8440
  • American Parkinson's Disease Association - (800) 223-2732
  • National Parkinson's Foundation - (305) 547-6666 or (800) 327-4545
  • Family Caregiver Alliance, National Center on Caregiving - (800) 445-8106
  • National Alliance for Caregiving -
  • Eldercare Locator Service - (800) 677-1116

Medically reviewed by Joseph Carcione, DO; American board of Psychiatry and Neurology


Alzheimer's Association. Parkinson's Disease Dementia.

DementiaGuide, "About Dementia." 3 May 2013.

MedscapeReference. Parkinson Disease.

MedscapeReference. Parkinson Disease Clinical Presentation.

Helpguide. "Parkinson's Disease & Parkinson's Dementia."

Lewy Body Dementia Association, Inc. "What Is LBD?" 2012.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/8/2016

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