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.

Understanding How Exercise Can Help Parkinson’s Symptoms

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A senior finishes working out after learning how exercise can help Parkinson’s symptoms.

Exercise can help Parkinson’s symptoms, and so can we!

Exercise is vitally important for all of us, but in particular, researchers are now finding out how much exercise can help Parkinson’s symptoms. Several studies are exposing direct links between physical activity and Parkinson’s, such as the largest clinical study up to now, in which patients who exercised no less than 2½ hours per week realized a higher overall wellbeing than those who refrained from physical exercise. And that’s just the beginning.

Parkinson’s symptoms begin when there is a loss in the brain cells that make dopamine. Researchers believe that exercise enables the mind to restore lost connections, form new ones, and continue maintaining those that are in place. Additional studies also show:

  • There were gains discovered in stride length, balance, and gait speed 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 those who pedaled faster on a stationary bike – once more, with results lasting for weeks after the study concluded.
  • Notable improvements in the normalcy of movement were discovered in individuals with Parkinson’s who maintained a consistent exercise program in comparison to those who did not.

A point to note is that these improvements seen were contingent upon the consistency of the exercise. The clinical tests revealed that any protective benefits achieved were discontinued when the amount and intensity of exercise were reduced or were implemented for only a short span of time. The required criteria for sustainable results appear to be just like those required to help those who’ve suffered a traumatic brain injury or stroke: intensity, specificity, difficulty, and complexity.

Scientists are working to learn more about how exercise can help Parkinson’s symptoms and the precise reasoning behind it. For the time being, if someone you love has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, it is certainly beneficial to consult with their primary care physician for a recommended exercise routine.

For support with safe, dependable transportation and accompaniment to a doctor’s appointment or workout program, or encouragement and motivation to take part in a regular exercise regimen at home, call San Diego Home Caregivers at (619) 487-9000. Our professional in-home care services are available to improve overall wellbeing for those with Parkinson’s disease or any other condition of aging throughout San Diego, La Jolla, Point Loma, and the surrounding areas. Reach out to us online to learn more.

5 Important Tips for a Parkinson’s Caregiver

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A great deal of older individuals with Parkinson’s disease are provided with the majority of their care at home from loved ones, especially during the early levels of the disease. As Parkinson’s caregivers ourselves, we at San Diego Home Caregivers understand the unique concerns experienced by family members who play the role of a Parkinson’s caregiver, and want you to know you are not alone! Our home health experts are always here to offer tips and to work with you in making certain your loved one is receiving the best care at all times.

To start, it’s helpful to keep these Parkinson’s-specific tips in mind:

  • Nutrition: A healthy diet helps lessen cell loss in a person with Parkinson’s. Consuming antioxidants, such as those found in blueberries, green tea, spinach, beans, broccoli, and some types of nuts, can help fend off oxidative stress.
  • Chewing and Swallowing: Individuals with Parkinson’s commonly have some level of difficulty with chewing and swallowing. Each person providing care for a loved one with Parkinson’s needs to learn the Heimlich maneuver to be prepared in case the person begins to choke.
  • Fall Prevention: Seniors with Parkinson’s commonly have difficulty with balance and walking, so it’s very important to assess the home surroundings and make alterations to lower the risk of falls. Installing items like customized toilet seats and grab bars where appropriate, and removing obstacles in and around the home is a good place to start.
  • Anxiety/Depression: Minimizing the risk for depression and anxiety is a key component in the battle against Parkinson’s. Keep a close eye on your loved one for indications of depression, and if detected, be sure he or she sees the doctor for assistance as soon as possible.
  • Medications: Parkinson’s treatments may have a wide range of side effects, and can impact the individual in a number of different ways. Some kinds of medicine can cause hallucinations or nightmares, for example. Make sure your loved one’s doctor advises you about any anticipated side effects of medications so you can be prepared.

We invite you to explore our San Diego Home Caregivers’ care services to understand how home care can lead to a better quality of life for both your loved one and the family members who are providing care. By working with our professional home care assistance team to help with some of the more routine aspects of caregiving, family members have the chance to spend more quality time together. Contact us online or call us at (619) 487-9000 to learn more about our team of experts in senior services in San Diego, CA and the surrounding areas.

Key Facts About the Five Parkinson’s Disease Stages

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More widespread in men, and more frequently diagnosed than muscular dystrophy, ALS and MS combined, Parkinson’s disease is clinically diagnosed in up to 7 – 10 million individuals throughout the world, with an additional 600,000 U.S. citizens diagnosed every year. And even while each person’s encounter with Parkinson’s may differ in level of severity, there are five main stages of development that are normally experienced by all.

In honor of Parkinson’s Awareness Month, San Diego Home Caregivers provides the details below to help you better understand the stages of Parkinson’s disease:

  • 1st Stage: Described as early-stage Parkinson’s, this phase impacts the individual with mild signs or symptoms that could present as follows:
    • Evident on just one side of the body
    • Effects are problematic, but not disabling
    • Tremors or uncontrollable shaking in one limb may be apparent
    • Family members can often pick up on deviations in the individual’s balance, facial expressions, and posture
  • 2nd Stage: In the second stage of Parkinson’s, the individual begins to present an inability to complete common physical tasks:
    • Symptoms now have an impact on both sides of the body
    • The person is experiencing minimal disability, but in most cases ambulatory or balance problems are observed
    • Posture begins to be affected
  • 3rd Stage: This phase is regarded as moderate Parkinson’s disease, and a more significant level of disability will begin to become obvious:
    • There is a recognizable slowing down of the body’s movements
    • Equilibrium deterioration may lead to the inability to stand or walk straight
    • There is a moderately significant overall dysfunction
  • 4th Stage: This stage is indicative of advanced Parkinson’s and involves significant effects:
    • Stiffness and bradykinesia, or slow movements, are now at play
    • The individual can no longer complete daily tasks and commonly is unable to live independently
    • Trembling may begin to lessen or go away altogether for unknown reasons during this stage
  • 5th Stage: This final stage of the disease generally takes over the person’s physical movements:
    • The person usually encounters a general decline in vitality and strength in both body and mind
    • The individual may potentially now be no longer able to walk or stand
    • One-on-one care is needed

The team at San Diego Home Caregivers, the experts in providing the highest quality La Jolla elder care and care throughout the surrounding areas, can help those with Parkinson’s disease and other conditions of aging to experience a higher quality of life, right in the security of home. Whether the need is for help with daily personal care, accompanied transportation to doctors’ appointments, running errands, light housework and meal preparation, or merely a friendly companion to brighten up each day, each of our care plans is individualized to each person’s unique needs and choices. Contact us online or call us any time at (619) 487-9000 to discover how our care services can help your family. To learn more about all of the areas we serve in San Diego County, please visit our Communities Served page.