Your Questions mean everything to me and finding Answers for you is why we are here. Here are some recent questions that we have been asked.
Q: My husband was told that he has Parkinsons Disease by his neurologist. When we go to a local Parkinson’s Support Group and I meet the other patients and caregivers, it does not seem like my husband’s symptoms are the same as the others. How can I be sure that he has Parkinsons Disease?
Unfortunately, there is not a clinical test that can accurately diagnose Parkinsons Disease. There are more advanced imaging studies that can be done, but the most helpful thing to do is to go to a Neurologist that is familiar with Parkinsons Disease and Movement Disorders. A general neurologist may not be as helpful, because there are diseases that look like Parkinsons Disease, but may not be true Parkinsons Disease. There are many names for the other diseases; PSP (Progressive Supra-Nuclear Palsy), Lewy Body Disease (LBD), and others. The most important thing to consider is whether or not the medications that are being taken to treat the Parkinsons Disease symptoms are actually helping. If the patient is taking Carbidopa/Levodopa and not recognizing improvement in their walking, balance or general function, that is an issue.
I have heard some patients say that they can skip a dose of medication, and cannot even tell, because the medication is not helping them. Before you jump to conclusions, you have to be sure that you are looking at specific symptoms and you have to monitor any improvement that may felt, even if it is for a short time period. In other words there are some cases where a patient may not experience a strong response to their medication, because the dose is not sufficient enough to provide a longer lasting response.
It is a challenging situation, but it is well worth the effort to question whether or not the dose of Levodopa is working. Remember that you can have side effects from Levodopa too. The most common side effects: constipation, sleepiness, lethargy and others. Many times, when it is determined that a person does not have actual Parkinsons Disease and the medication is reduced, the patient feels better. They can be less constipated and more alert.
You may be right. Your husband may not have “idiopathic” or actual Parkinsons Disease. You need to seek further medical advice.
Q: My wife has dementia and has started to develop problems staying asleep at night. I am afraid that she may leave the house when I am asleep. What should I do?
It is not uncommon for advanced Alzheimer’s patients and people with dementia, to have increased confusion at night. Vivid dreams and hallucinations may also occur and affect a person’s sleeping pattern. When people are startled from a dream and appear to wake up, they may still have REM sleep disturbances.
The most critical thing to do is secure your home safely. If you need to add dead bolt locks or other safety equipment, do that right away. People are known to leave their home at night, due to confusion and that is a huge safety hazard.
Once you have secured your home, make sure that you are reporting these problems to your Primary Care Physician and/or your Neurologist. There are a number of ways to treat these sleep disturbances, and you need to seek out the proper type of specialist to improve the patient’s sleep pattern, so you can get some sleep too. The Caregiver needs to make sure that they are able to sleep as well. That is critical and most important!