What links Alzheimer’s Disease with Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease are neurodegenerative disorders that affect the nervous system (gradual damage to brain cells).

As with other progressive brain disorders, they are linked to an accumulation of specific proteins in the brain. However, these disorders are characterized by a unique combination of symptoms and a distinct protein buildup in specific brain regions.

Although uncommon, it is possible to have both conditions simultaneously. Alzheimer’s disease produces dementia invariably, but Parkinson’s disease, a movement illness, can occasionally induce dementia. This article compares and contrasts the cognitive and behavioral changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

Parkinson’s Disease: Signs, Phases, and Treatment

Parkinson’s disease often begins after age 60 and progresses steadily over time. Parkinson’s disease can manifest in some individuals in their 30s or 40s. It is predominantly a movement condition manifested by resting tremors, slowness, and rigidity of movement.

In the later stages of Parkinson’s disease, dementia might develop.

However, most patients with Parkinson’s disease do not develop dementia.

Signs of Parkinson’s Disease

Occasionally, the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease fluctuate during the day, with a notable general decrease over time. However, the disease can impede movement and independence in its advanced stages.

These are the most prevalent symptoms:

  • Resting tremors, typically of the arms, legs, or jaw.
  • A sluggish, shuffling manner of walking
  • Problems with equilibrium
  • Rapid, quiet speaking with little mouth movement
  • Rigid arm and leg actions
  • Expressionless face
  • Dry skin
  • Reduced or intensely emotive expressions (such as frequent crying)
  • Depression
  • Constipation
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Dementia
  • Hallucinations

It is possible to encounter several of these symptoms in the early stages and all of them in the latter stages.

Parkinson’s drugs can generate side effects such as hallucinations and dyskinesia, distinct movement disorders from those caused by Parkinson’s disease.

Phases of Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease can be divided into distinct stages.

The stages are described as follows:

Phases 1: Mild symptoms typically affect one side of the body.

Phases 2: Symptoms worsen, affecting both sides of the body; daily activities may be sluggish or difficult.

Phases 3: Symptoms can impair everyday functioning; falls may occur.

Phases 4: Severe symptoms necessitating the use of a walker or other assistive devices to stand and walk

Phases 5: characterized by an inability to move, reliance on a wheelchair, or bed rest. Cognitive consequences can be significant at this stage,

The majority of persons with Parkinson’s disease will advance through these phases; however, progression might vary, and you may spend many years in an early stage.

Treatment for Parkinson’s

Even at advanced stages, Parkinson’s disease can be managed with various successful therapies. Unfortunately, no treatments have been shown to prevent progression, but early treatment may decrease advancement in some patients.

Typical therapies include:

Parkinson’s drugs: These medications influence the action of neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) to alleviate the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

Symptomatic treatments:These drugs do not explicitly treat Parkinson’s disease, but they may alleviate some of its symptoms. For instance, your physician may give medication for constipation or depression.

Deep brain stimulation is a type of surgery for Parkinson’s disease in which an implanted device generates electrical signals that assist control movement symptoms. It can be helpful for some individuals, and you may be able to reduce your Parkinson’s disease prescription dosage.

Occupational and physical therapy: You may benefit from working with a therapist to obtain better control over your body motions to prevent falls and perform the activities you need and desire.

Alzheimer’s Disease: Signs, Phases, and Treatment

Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by memory, cognition, behavior, and autonomy impairments. It typically begins after age 70, but it can begin earlier. Alzheimer’s disease is not connected with physical movement-impairing symptoms.

Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease

Over time, the consequences of Alzheimer’s disease worsen. The symptoms may be more noticeable when a person is weary or has another ailment, such as an infection, renal disease, or liver disease.

Common Alzheimer’s disease symptoms include:

  • Problems remembering stuff
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Difficulty in solving problems
  • Getting disoriented
  • alterations in appetite
  • Paranoia and lack of faith in others
  • Excessive slumber
  • Agitation
  • Lack of focus on self-care
  • Depression

Occasionally, these symptoms are connected. Forgetting the whereabouts of an item, for instance, can lead people to believe it was stolen, so aggravating paranoia.

Phases of Alzheimer’s Disease

There are multiple methods to characterize the stages of Alzheimer’s disease, and their progression might be rapid or gradual. Occasionally, the disease’s progression may appear to slow, and it can abruptly worsen.

These are the seven phases of Alzheimer’s disease:

Phases 1: Before symptoms appear

Phases 2: Mild forgetfulness

Phases 3: increasingly severe forgetfulness

Phases 4: forgetfulness and trouble making decisions

Phases 5: severely impaired self-care and social relationships

Phases 6: alterations in personality and loss of independence

Phases 7: inability to eat and immobility

People with advanced Alzheimer’s disease can become extraordinarily inactive and lose their appetite. As a result, nutrition, bedsores, and infections can become significant difficulties. Agitation can also be an issue during the advanced phases, and individuals may fight medical care by removing intravenous lines or feeding tubes.

Treatment for Alzheimer’s

There are a variety of medical treatments available for Alzheimer’s disease. They may reduce the advancement of the disease in some individuals, but they do not treat symptoms or reverse the disease’s effects.

Among the medications approved for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease are:

  • Namenda (memantine)
  • Aricept (donepezil)
  • Razadyne (galantamine)
  • Exelon (rivastigmine)
  • Aduhelm (aducanumab)

Additionally, symptomatic therapies may be provided to facilitate some consequences of the disease, such as depression or agitation.

Alzheimer’s vs Parkinson’s Disease

The dementia of Parkinson’s disease bears some parallels to the dementia of Alzheimer’s disease. And there are some distinctions, too. Alzheimer’s disease causes dementia slowly over time, while the dementia of Parkinson’s disease frequently develops more swiftly and drastically.

The symptoms of Parkinson’s dementia can come and go from day to day, but the symptoms of Alzheimer’s dementia will not go away.

Similar Symptoms

Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease can produce anxiety, depression, and sleep difficulties in the early stages. In addition, both diseases may lead to delusions, hallucinations, and other psychotic symptoms in later stages.

The hallucinations that might arise with Parkinson’s disease are usually induced by the drugs used to treat the disorder.

Another form, Lewy body disease, frequently described as Parkinson plus or parkinsonism, is characterized by some movement abnormalities that can occur with Parkinson’s disease, along with severe and increasing dementia and hallucinations.

Associated brain alterations varied for each condition:

  • Alzheimer’s disease is related to changes in the brain, including a buildup of amyloid-beta plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain. There is also degeneration of the hippocampus, a part of the brain involved with memory.
  • Parkinson’s disease is related to degeneration of the basal ganglia and a buildup of Lewy body proteins in the brain. Parkinson’s dementia is also connected with further degradation of the thalamus and the hippocampus.

These illnesses can alter imaging investigations, although they don’t always do so. The protein buildup may be discovered based on research investigations and autopsy examinations, and sometimes functional brain imaging.

The protein buildup and brain degeneration are not diagnostic—these data are used in research studies that study strategies to cure or prevent Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

Coping With Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease

Living with both Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease is exceedingly challenging. The dementia of Alzheimer’s mixed with the movement impairments of Parkinson’s (and maybe Parkinson’s dementia) can make self-care more difficult.

Rivastigmine is the only medicine that is expressly licensed to treat Parkinson’s dementia. Additionally, you may need medicine for the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (those connected to movement) and medication to help with other symptoms, such as dry skin.

Lifestyle Changes

Other strategies known to aid persons with both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease include:

  • Social engagement
  • Mental stimulation
  • Regular exercise
  • Healthy diet
  • Quality sleep
  • Attention to vascular health
  • Stress management

The load on loved ones can seem unbearable. Between giving continual care and worrying about your loved one becoming harmed or missing, you will need to seek expert support to help you take care of your loved one and get some rest and self-care.

Consider reaching out to a therapist and/or a support group so you may express your thoughts and discover strategies to manage.

Summary 

Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s are degenerative brain disorders caused by slow damage to brain cells. Each of these disorders has its own set of symptoms, stages, and therapies. Dementia is always found in Alzheimer’s disease. Parkinson’s disease is a movement illness that can lead to dementia. It’s conceivable to have both conditions at the same time.

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