Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Durham Eldercare: The Effects of Parkinson's Disease on Memory

By:  Todd Palmer

Durham EldercareParkinson's disease is a movement disorder that is progressive, meaning that it becomes increasingly severe over time. Because the more common symptoms of this condition are related to the movement of the body (tremor, rigidity, bradykinesia, and postural instability), it often comes as a surprise that Parkinson's disease is also responsible for memory loss in a large number of individuals.[1] Heather, who is a senior care provider and provides eldercare in Durham, North Carolina, recently did a bit of research to better her understanding of the effects on memory that this particular disease can have, as one of her new patients suffers from this condition. Through her research, she learned several important facts about the relationship between Parkinson's disease and cognitive function—particularly memory loss.[2]

  • Mild cognitive impairment is a symptom experienced by many seniors who suffer from Parkinson's disease, as the changes that take place in the brain that cause the other symptoms of the condition can also reduce the rate at which individuals can recall memories and think.
  • Stress, depression, and medication can exacerbate the cognitive impairment that Parkinson's disease can create.
  • Approximately 50 percent of the individuals who have Parkinson's disease also develop memory loss.
  • Declarative memory and non-declarative memory are the two kinds of memory that the brain utilizes, engaging the recollection of specific ideas or experiences and the ability to perform familiar tasks, respectively.
  • To create a solid, lasting memory, the brain must encode, store, and retrieve it.
  • In individuals who have Parkinson's disease, the brain fails to properly absorb information and then organize it appropriately. Because of this, it has a difficult time recalling specific pieces of information in the future. This can be likened to improperly labeling and alphabetizing files in a cabinet and then going back to try to locate one file in particular.
  • Prospective memory is commonly interrupted by Parkinson's disease. As such, individuals who have this condition may plan for a certain event or activity but not follow through with all aspects of their plans (i.e. put a letter to be mailed on the counter but leave for the post office without bringing it along).
Heather believes that understanding the relationship between Parkinson's disease and memory impairment can help caregivers better see to the needs of seniors who have this condition.

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If you are interested in learning more about Alzheimer's, dementia and elder care, contact Todd Palmer and the professionals at Always Best Care of Chapel Hill and Durham at (919) 357-1440 visit their website.

[1] http://www.pdf.org/en/about_pd
[2] http://www.pdf.org/en/cognitive_impairment_pd

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