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How Are Cognitive Changes in PD Different than Alzheimer’s Disease?

 Parkinson’s disease

  • Overall, dementia produces a greater impact on social and occupational functioning in PD than with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) due to the combination of motor AND cognitive impairments.
  • There is some overlap between symptoms and biological changes seen in AD and PD, however, it is less likely for both disorders to occur at the same time.
  • Development of the dementia in PD patients represents progression of Parkinson’s disease, usually after several years of motor impairment.

Alzheimer’s disease

  • Alzheimer’s is a fatal brain disease that causes a decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills.
  • Dementia is the hallmark symptom of Alzheimer’s disease as people become confused about time and place, have difficulty recognizing people and places they know, remembering how to do simply daily tasks, and often experience mood changes.
  • Whereas, dementia may or may not occur in patients with PD.
  • In fact, according to recent research 30% of PD patients DO NOT develop dementia as part of their PD progression.
  • See 10 Signs of Alzheimer’s.

Page reviewed by Dr. Joash Lazarus, NPF Movement Disorders Fellow, Department of Neurology at Emory University School of Medicine.