Are Alzheimer’s & Parkinson’s Related?
Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease are related in that they are both diseases which affect the brain. Researchers believe that the memory loss from Parkinson’s is very different from the memory loss that occurs with Alzheimer’s. In fact, only 50 to 80 percent of Parkinson’s patients develop dementia, according to alz.org.
Main Differences Between Parkinson’s & Alzheimer’s
The other difference between Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s is how each disease affects the body. Alzheimer’s primarily affects memory and, in its advanced stages, it impairs motor functions.
Parkinson’s is a distinct neurodegenerative disorder characterized by muscle tremors and stiff muscles. The overlap between Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s comes in the later stages of Parkinson’s where a patient can develop symptoms of dementia. Those with Parkinson’s who do have dementia – called Parkinson’s disease dementia – typically don’t develop it for 10 to 15 years after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s.
As many doctors will describe it, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s are two separate neurological conditions which can overlap. Parkinson’s is caused by small structures called Lewy bodies which are scattered in the brain. Dementia caused by Parkinson’s occurs when Lewy bodies accumulate in specific areas in the brain associated with memory function. There are no Lewy bodies in Alzheimer’s but once the brain has been weakened by Lewy body dementia, a patient becomes vulnerable to Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s may be related in that both may affect the same part of the body but the diseases are quite different.
Phoenix, Arizona Senior Care & Assistance
If you have a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s in the Phoenix area and have additional questions, please give us a call. We’d be happy to answer questions you might have about caring for your loved one and how you can be of better assistance. Visit our home page for more information on our home care services for seniors.