A home healthcare worker, a mature woman of Pacific Islander ethnicity, helping a senior man with a walker enter his house through the front door. She is holding the walker, directing him to watch is step.

Is It Parkinson’s, or Dementia with Lewy Bodies?

Each year, thousands of American seniors are told they have Parkinson’s disease, but they do not. For a number of these people, the true diagnosis is a similar but not as well-known disease: dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB).

Dementia with Lewy bodies affects as many as 1.3 million Americans, according to the Lewy Body Dementia Association (LBDA). And that estimate could be too low, considering that a number of people who’ve been incorrectly diagnosed with Parkinson’s still have not been given an accurate diagnosis.

Signs and symptoms for the two diseases can be very similar, in particular as they progress, because they exhibit the same root modifications in the brain.

Here are the symptoms you should be aware of, according to the LBDA:

  • Intensifying dementia – Increasing confusion and reduced attention and executive function are frequent. Memory impairment may not be obvious during the early stages.
  • Frequent visual hallucinations – These are commonly complex and detailed.
  • Hallucinations of other senses – Touch or hearing are probably the most typical.
  • REM sleep behavior disorder – This can appear decades before the onset of dementia and Parkinson’s.
  • Frequent falls and fainting – Includes unexplained loss in consciousness.
  • Other psychiatric disruptions – These differ from patient to patient.

Is the correct diagnosis really critical? Diagnosing DLB quickly and properly may possibly mean the difference between life and death, according to Howard I. Hurtig, M.D., Chair, Department of Neurology, Pennsylvania Hospital and Elliott Professor of Neurology. Incorrectly treating DLB can not only result in serious adverse reactions, but could even exacerbate symptoms and prevent accurate symptom management.

Much of the confusion among doctors is due to the fact that both Parkinson’s disease and DLB come under the exact same umbrella of Lewy body dementias.

An important distinction is in the “one-year rule” associated with cognitive symptoms. Patients with Parkinson’s disease ordinarily do not present cognitive issues until at least one year after mobility symptoms start. DLB is the exact opposite, with cognitive symptoms appearing first for at least one year.

Endeavor In-Home Care offers Mesa respite care and dementia care services for the surrounding areas. Contact us at 480-498-2324 to arrange a free home care assessment or to learn more about the way we can help your loved one with dementia, Parkinson’s disease, or any other condition common in aging.

Healthy senior man in GYM leaning on spinning bicycle

The Benefits of Physical Activity for Seniors With Parkinsons

The benefits of remaining physically active throughout aging are tremendous; however, when it comes to physical activity and Parkinson’s disease, it could truly be a game-changer in the progression of the disease. Several studies are displaying direct links between exercise and Parkinson’s, including the largest clinical study up to now, in which patients who exercised at least 2½ hours each week realized a higher total wellbeing compared to those who refrained from physical activity. And that’s only the start.

The onset of Parkinson’s symptoms develops following loss of the brain cells that create dopamine. Researchers believe that exercise makes it possible for the brain to rebuild lost connections, form new ones, and continue maintaining those that are still in place. Additional studies show:

  • Gains were occurring in stride length, gait speed and balance following treadmill exercise – after as little as just one single session, and enduring for a number of weeks afterwards.
  • Motor function and coordination were enhanced in people who pedaled at a faster rate on a stationary bike – again, with results lasting for weeks after the study ended.
  • Noticeable improvements regarding the normalcy of movement were found in those with Parkinson’s who engaged in a regular exercise program in comparison to those that did not.

It’s important to notice that the outcomes achieved were reliant upon consistent, ongoing exercise. The scientific tests reported that any protective benefits occurring were discontinued if the amount and intensity of exercise was reduced or was implemented for only a short period of time. The necessary criteria for sustainable results appear to be the same as those essential to help those who’ve suffered a traumatic brain injury or stroke: intensity, specificity, difficulty and complexity.

Additional research is underway to hone in even more on the great things about physical activity for seniors with Parkinson’s disease, as well as the precise reasoning behind it. For the time being, if your loved one has been identified as having Parkinson’s disease, it is certainly beneficial to consult with his or her primary care physician for a recommended exercise regimen.

For assistance with safe, dependable transportation and accompaniment to a doctor’s appointment or workout program, or encouragement and inspiration to engage in an ongoing exercise program in the home, call Endeavor In-Home Care at 480-498-2324. Our Phoenix live-in care experts are available to improve total wellbeing for individuals with Parkinson’s disease, or any other condition of aging throughout Phoenix and the surrounding area. Contact us today to learn more about our in-home care services.