Could a Parkinson’s Misdiagnosis Be Dementia With Lewy Bodies?

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An older man who received a Parkinson’s misdiagnosis gets help from a caregiver walking through his doorway.

Someone you love may have received a Parkinson’s misdiagnosis, and the symptoms could instead be the result of dementia with Lewy bodies.

There are thousands of people in America every year who receive a Parkinson’s misdiagnosis. For most of these people, the correct diagnosis is a very similar but lesser-known disease: dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB).

1.3 million Americans are living with dementia with Lewy bodies, according to the Lewy Body Dementia Association (LBDA). That estimate may be too low considering that a number of people who’ve been incorrectly identified as having Parkinson’s still haven’t been given the correct diagnosis.

A Parkinson’s misdiagnosis isn’t that unlikely when you consider how similar the signs and symptoms for the two diseases can be, particularly as they progress, since they exhibit the same root alterations in the brain.

Below are the symptoms you should be aware of, as reported by the LBDA:

  • Frequent visual hallucinations – These are typically complicated and detailed.
  • Hallucinations of other senses – Hearing and touch are among the most common of these.
  • Intensifying dementia – Experiencing confusion more often and reduced executive function and attention are frequent. Memory impairment might not be apparent during the early stages.
  • Recurring falls and fainting – This includes any unexplained loss in consciousness.
  • REM sleep behavior disorder – This can show up decades ahead of the onset of dementia and Parkinson’s.
  • Other psychiatric disturbances – Most of these vary from patient to patient.

Getting a correct diagnosis is vital. Diagnosing DLB quickly and properly may well 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 will not only cause significant adverse side effects, but can even exacerbate symptoms and prevent accurate symptom management.

Part of why Parkinson’s misdiagnoses occur is because of the fact that both Parkinson’s disease and DLB are categorized in the exact same umbrella of Lewy body dementias.

The “one-year rule,” which refers to the cognitive symptoms is the main difference between the two. Patients with Parkinson’s disease in most cases do not present cognitive issues until at least one year after movement symptoms begin. DLB is the exact opposite, with cognitive symptoms appearing first for at least a year.

San Diego Home Caregivers delivers high-quality senior home care services in San Diego, La Jolla, Point Loma, and the surrounding areas. Give us a call at (619) 487-9000 or contact us online to set up a free in- home care assessment  or to learn more about the way we can help someone you love with Parkinson’s, DLB, or any other concern.

Explore the Benefits of Live-In Care

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A senior man gets help from his caregiver in the morning, one of the benefits of live-in care.

Discover the benefits of live-in care and how a caregiver’s presence during all hours of the day brings peace of mind.

As aging loved ones progress through life, their evolving needs prompt a reassessment of the most effective care model for them. Initially, their care journey might involve a home caregiver assisting with morning routines and meals. However, as time unfolds, a few hours of assistance each day may prove insufficient. Challenges may arise in the later hours or even the middle of the night, signaling the need for more comprehensive care. Read more

Tips for Discussing Aging Parent Care During Holiday Visits

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A senior woman enjoys a holiday meal with her family. Many adult children find it necessary to discuss aging parent care during holiday visits.

Observing changes in your parents’ health during a holiday visit? Approach the conversation about aging parent care with sensitivity and compassion.

Returning home for the holidays can be a heartwarming experience, filled with the joy of family gatherings and shared memories. However, for many adult children, it can also be a time of sobering realization – a moment when they observe subtle changes in the health and well-being of their aging parents. These changes may go unnoticed throughout the year, making the holiday season a reality check for the need to address potential aging parent care requirements. Read more

Tips for Caring for a Senior After a Heart Attack or Stroke

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Help promote healing when caring for a senior after a heart attack or stroke with these helpful tips.

When a loved one experiences a stroke or heart attack, you will likely want to focus on a list of actions that can be taken to ensure that the damaged heart heals and the individual’s lifestyle choices that contributed to the heart attack are changed. San Diego Home Caregivers often receives calls from families looking for a list of actionable items – to-do lists for care and heart health. In a scenario fraught with chaos, lists give family caregivers a sense of control. They are the handbook for a caregiver’s new reality, helping them know what they can do to promote healing and keep another heart attack from taking place. Read more

Four Fun Holiday Activities for Seniors and their Families

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Senior woman smiling at the holiday dinner table with family

For ideas on holiday activities for seniors, reach out to San Diego Home Caregivers, provider of elderly care and dementia care in San Diego & nearby areas.

Even though the holiday season is typically thought about as a time that is joyful, abundant with visiting loved ones who are near and dear to us and finding the perfect gifts, for older people, it can be anything but merry and bright. A blend of loved ones lost, memories of holidays past, health problems and more can impact seniors with loneliness and sorrow.

At San Diego Home Caregivers, we care deeply about making certain that seniors feel included in the celebrations and enjoy the holidays to the fullest. These fun holiday activities for seniors can help everyone enjoy the wonder of the holidays together:

  • Develop a cookbook with recipes from family members. Compile all the recipes together, and then make copies of your new family cookbook.
  • Take a drive to view holiday lights in an old neighborhood that your older family member remembers fondly.
  • If a senior has trouble with putting out holiday decorations, offer your assistance! This is a wonderful way to share memories of past holidays and the significance behind different decorations. San Diego Home Caregivers can also provide help with holiday decorating.
  • For a holiday that is truly relaxing, schedule time together at a local salon or spa. You can even request a local beautician or masseuse to come to the home if it’s possible.

Safety measures may also come up for the older adult, for a variety of reasons: elevated fall risks with all of the extra holiday decorations, problems with following a prescribed dietary plan, and for those with dementia, disruption to routine, additional visitors in the home, and higher noise levels can all lead to stress.

Bear the following in mind to be sure older adults remain safe and content:

  • Keep decoration safety in mind. Ensure that there are clear walking paths, and try to utilize simple, uncluttered decorations.
  • Subdued lighting can conceal things that the elderly could possibly trip over, such as extension cords.
  • Set aside a quiet area for the older person if the enthusiasm of young children, loud music and activities become stressful.
  • Assign someone to be the older adult’s “buddy” for the event, making certain his or her needs are fully met and establishing a bond that is wonderful for both.

The holidays can certainly be fun and relaxing for everyone. With just a little pre-planning and additional thought, seniors will enjoy the holidays as much as everyone else, producing new memories that the whole family will take pleasure in for a lifetime.

And, if in the middle of the holiday hustle and bustle you might like the help of a professional caregiver, San Diego Home Caregivers, a provider of elderly care and dementia care in San Diego and other surrounding areas, is here to help! Contact us at (619) 487-9000 to learn more about how our services can brighten the holiday season for you and your family and for more ideas for fun holiday activities for seniors to enjoy this season. For a full list of the cities we serve, please click here.

Watch for These Signs of Depression in Senior Loved Ones

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Senior woman with sad expression

Be aware of the signs of depression that could present in senior loved ones.

Most people go through times when they simply want to be by themselves for a while with their thoughts, to sort out issues in their lives without any distractions, or just to experience some downtime. For older people, however, being isolated for an extended period of time might be indicative of a more concerning condition: depression.

At San Diego Home Caregivers, a provider of professional home and memory care in La Jolla and nearby areas, our team has shared the journey through depression with many older adults, and we want to offer help. The most important first step is to contact the older person’s doctor right away if you believe he or she may be struggling with depression. Depression in seniors is treatable, and the sooner, the better.

Watch for these signs of depression in your senior loved ones:

  • Loss: A variety of kinds of loss can trigger depression or other medical concerns: losing weight, losing the desire to eat, a loss of self-worth, disinterest in activities or hobbies that were formerly enjoyed, or a reduction in time spent with family or friends.
  • Slowing Down: Notice if the older person’s movements or speaking have slowed down, if it takes the senior longer than usual to talk about or recall memories, or if drive or energy are reduced.
  • Sleeping Changes: Depression in seniors can have significant effects on sleep patterns, causing trouble with falling or staying asleep, issues with awakening, or struggles with being alert and awake for the duration of the day. 
  • Forgetfulness: Watch for differences in how the senior takes care of herself; for instance, if she was always careful about maintaining good personal hygiene and taking care with her appearance, but abruptly begins to ignore personal care, or any other critical changes like forgetting to take medicine, to eat a well-balanced diet, etc.

Various other medical conditions may also make depression worse. Be especially mindful if the senior has been affected by any of the following:

  • Cancer
  • Stroke
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease
  • Thyroid conditions

If you suspect depression in a senior loved one, it’s crucial to take action and not to disregard it as something the senior will get over in time. Depression is a chronic medical condition that requires treatment in order to recover. 

And keep in mind, you are not alone! The caregivers of San Diego Home Caregivers are here to help older adults, and their family members, through senior depression or any other condition of aging. We’re experienced in providing caring, compassionate in-home services for older adults, offering friendly companionship to help encourage participation in exercise programs and social activities, to prepare appetizing, healthy meals, provide transportation to medical appointments and to run errands, and more. 

Reach out to us any time online or call us at (619) 487-9000 to learn more about our in-home senior care and memory care in La Jolla and the surrounding communities.

Understanding the Differences in Depression and Dementia

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Elderly woman looking out a window

Would you recognize if a senior loved one had depression or dementia?

Visiting Mom recently revealed a number of concerning signs. Though she has always been up and out of bed before 7 a.m., now it’s difficult to wake her before noon. Rather than going to great lengths to prepare an elaborate home-cooked meal, she would rather merely warm up a can of soup; and can barely finish a small bowlful. On top of that, she’s lost interest in enjoying time with her best friends from her knitting club. Could she be suffering from depression or dementia? 

There are a number of similarities between the two, like:

  • Eating and sleeping changes
  • Reduced interest in formerly enjoyed interests and hobbies, and spending time with others
  • Reduced memory and the ability to focus

There are, however, a number of distinguishing differences to help identify whether depression or dementia could be at play:

Dementia:

  • A slow, progressive decline in mental functioning
  • Noticeable problems with motor and/or language skills
  • Difficulty with memory, without being aware of these problems
  • Confusion in knowing the correct date, time, and surroundings

Depression:

  • A more rapid decline in mental functioning
  • Difficulties with concentration
  • A bit slower, but still normal motor and language abilities
  • Difficulty with memory issues, but being aware of the problem
  • Awareness of correct date, time and surroundings

Sometimes, both conditions can impact a person simultaneously. Brent Forester, MD, director of the mood disorders division in the geriatric psychiatry research program at McLean Hospital in Belmont, MA, shares, “40 to 50% of people with Alzheimer’s disease get depression, but depression also may be a risk factor for Alzheimer’s.”

If you suspect either depression or dementia in a senior loved one, arrange for an appointment as soon as possible with his/her doctor. Receiving a correct diagnosis and beginning a treatment plan is imperative. 

Help for depression can include an antidepressant along with therapeutic counseling, or hospitalization if the difficulties are severe and require more intensive treatment. Dementia care usually involves medications that help with specific symptoms, like sleep problems, memory loss, or changes in behavior. 

If a senior you love has been diagnosed with either depression or dementia, or is struggling with any other difficulties of aging, San Diego Home Caregivers can help. With our skilled dementia and elder home care services, we’re here for whatever specific needs your loved one is facing. Contact us online or at (619) 487-9000 for more information on dementia care in La Mesa, CA, or to request a free in-home consultation. For a full list of all of the communities where we provide care, please visit our Communities Served page.