The major component shared by both Parkinson’s disease and dementia is the functioning of neurons, with a then understandable association. Dementia is caused by neuron demise or diminished capacity of communication with other cells, while Parkinson’s disease, neurons in the basal ganglia experience deterioration that disrupts the normal neurotransmitter dopamine balance where neurons waste and die. With this shared neuron deterioration, the prevalence of dementia associated with Parkinson’s disease is clearly understood. One-third of all patients with Parkinson’s disease will display dementia (LeMone, Burke, & Bauldoff, 2011) with indicators identical to Alzheimer’s form of dementia.
James Parkinson first described the disease named after him as a motor dysfunction through an essay on “shaking palsy” in the early nineteenth century, with Friedrich Lewy a century later describing atypical masses of protein (now known as Lewy bodies) within cell cytoplasm’s in the brainstems of those displaying symptoms of Parkinson’s disease including those with dementia. Because of the distinct similarities, there has been professional discussion that Parkinson’s disease, Parkinson’s with dementia, and dementia with Lewy bodies be grouped as one: Lewy Body Disease (Auning, E., A., & Aarsland, D., 2012, p. 233). Dementia associated with Parkinson’s is frequent, with the occurrence assessed. Those with Parkinson’s disease with dementia represent 5% of all people who have dementia, and of those with Parkinson’s disease have the prevalence of accompanying dementia is 30% and a 6 times increased chance of dementia compared to those the same age without Parkinson’s (Auning, E., A., & Aarsland, D., 2012, p. 236). The development of dementia in Parkinson’s disease does not appear simultaneously with the primary motor dysfunction symptoms, but rather latent and unpredictable in its manifestation. The development of dementia after diagnosis, the cognitive impairment progresses from mild memory difficulties to dementia, without consistency, or may never develop at all.
The exact cause of Parkinson’s disease and the dementia that often follows is not fully understood, but every source scoured points to both heredity and environmental factors. The thought process seems to be that predominance is inherent, and can be environmentally triggered, though such triggers are vaguely defined as environmental toxins. There have been some known instances of drug induced Parkinson’s symptoms which disappeared when the drug was ceased.
With accelerated awareness, understanding, diagnostic tools and drug developments, the last 50 years has introduced progressively improving prognosis for those suffering from Parkinson’s disease and the associative dementia. More accurate immunocytochemical approaches can identify Lewy bodies in...