Symptoms and Signs of Parkinson's Disease

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 11/24/2021

Doctor's Notes on Parkinson's Disease

Parkinson's disease (PD) is an age-related degenerative disorder of certain brain cells that affects body movements. In some people, one or more cognitive processes are impaired. When this impairment is severe enough to interfere with a person’s ability to perform daily tasks, this is considered Parkinson's disease dementia

 

Symptoms of Parkinson's disease include tremors (shaking), stiffness of the trunk and limbs, slow of movement, loss of balance and coordination, shuffling, problems speaking, facial masking (expressionless, mask-like face), swallowing problems, and stooped posture. Parkinson’s patients (both those with and without dementia) may also become indecisive, fearful, dependent, and passive. 

Dementia in Parkinson’s disease may range from mild to severe. Symptoms of Parkinson's disease dementia include

  • the inability to make decisions,
  • difficulty adapting to changes,
  • disorientation in familiar surroundings,
  • difficulty learning new things,
  • problems with concentration,
  • memory loss (short-term and long-term),
  • difficulty sequencing events in correct order, and
  • problems using and understanding language. 

What Is the Treatment for Parkinson's Disease Dementia?

There are no current treatments to specifically treat Parkinson’s disease dementia. A team of providers including psychiatrists, geriatricians, and neurologists may be involved in the care of Parkinson’s disease dementia patients. 

Various medications and therapies are used to treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease dementia. These medications and therapies include:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants to treat mood disorders and depression 
  • Cholinesterase inhibitors help with thinking and behavior 
  • Melatonin for sleep problems, which are common 
  • Benzodiazepines may be used sparingly and in low doses to help anxiety and sleep problems 
  • Deep brain stimulators are being researched for treatment

Dementia from Parkinson’s disease is progressive and patients may ultimately need full-time nursing care. 

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REFERENCE:

Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.