Revisiting Dementia Risk in PD

For many of us Parkies, dementia is the greatest fear. The medical literature typically refers to “many” of us being destined for some form of it (example “Parkinson’s Disease Q&A, Seventh Edition,” Parkinson’s Disease Foundation). I’ve read estimates up to 75%.

But is our real risk lower? “Fortunately, dementia occurs in only about 20% of people with Parkinson’s disease, “ according to a 2015 review of Parkinson’s dementia in “EMedicine and Health.”

“If patients experience hallucinations and have severe motor control (problems versus tremor predominance), they’re at higher risk for dementia. The development of  dementia is slow.  Typically,  people that (sic) develop symptoms of dementia do so about 10 to 15 years after the initial diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease.”

The review goes on to say: “Some researchers suggest that at least 50% of people with Parkinson’s disease have some mild cognitive impairment and estimate that as many  as 20% to 40% (of those) may have more severe symptoms (of) dementia.”

Who Gets PD?

The Neuro Institute of Sarasota answers this way: “We used to think it was associated with professions such as arc-welding or steel mill work, but more recent studies have not confirmed this; in fact, it seems to be more prevalent in engineers, accountants, and doctors, suggesting that these patients are more likely to seek help and be diagnosed.”

Sensory Loss in PD

For some of us, sensory loss frustrates our everyday routines. My reduced sense of feel in both hands makes for too many incidences of the “dropsies.” My temperature control is often haywire, making me feel hotter than the actual room temperature would suggest.

The possible reason? A 2008 study of skin samples by Maria Nolano, etc. shows a significant loss of sensory nerve ends in the hands of parkies.

Recommended Reading

Two recent articles are worth your attention. Barbara Peters-Smith, medical writer for The Sarasota Herald-Tribune examines the extensive and very impressive PD support and treatment options in Sarasota County, including, two, (count them two) care and treatment organizations. Eat your heart out Hillsborough and Pinellas parkies.

The second article of note is ESPN’s long feature on Rock Steady Boxing, which again raises the question of when Hillsborough will get a franchise.


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