Thank you to Susan Chipman, PhD, client of The Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C., who shared her research on this subject.
Patients with Parkinson's disease exhibit difficulty moving and tremors, but one aspect of their condition that is often overlooked is cognitive impairment. About one-third to one-half of those with Parkinson's exhibit some signs of cognitive impairment at the time they are diagnosed, but over time nearly all patients will experience substantial cognitive decline.
Unlike with Alzheimer's and other dementias, patients with Parkinson's don't lose their memory. Instead, they may develop trouble with making decisions, planning, and controlling their emotions, and often exhibit changes in personality as a result.
With Alzheimer's disease, the patient often stops recognizing family. "With Parkinson's, it's like the family doesn't recognize [the patient] anymore," says Thomas Montine, a neuropathologist who heads the Parkinson's disease research center at the University of Washington in Seattle.
Medical experts are increasingly recognizing the disease's impact on cognition but research has been slow, in part because of the difficulty in sorting out the disease's movement issues from the cognitive ones. Scientists are currently working on a way to tag biomarkers in living patients to see if the presence of these markers in brain scans tracks with the progression of their Parkinson’s. The test group of 150 Parkinson's patients will contribute samples of blood and spinal fluid, and undergo neuroimaging each year. While testing this group, they are also looking for genetic markers of the disease, as well.
Do you or a loved one have Parkinson’s Disease? At The Fairfax Elder Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C., we are dedicated to easing the financial and emotional burden on those suffering from Parkinson’s Disease and their loved ones. We can help you prepare for your future financial and long-term care needs. Call 703-691-1888 to make an appointment for a free consultation.