Friday 5: About Parkinson’s Disease

Five things I learned this past weekend about Parkinson’s Disease:

  1. Caffeine consumption appears to be protective against Parkinson’s disease. The more coffee you drink, the greater decrease in risk of PD.
    Score for me! Pass the coffee pot, please!
  2. Sleep problems are a feature of the disease. My dad suffers from insomnia on a regular basis and –probably related — drowsiness in the daytime (he fell asleep constantly during lunch on Sunday — yet woke up enough to snitch my last bite of dessert when I left the table to refill my water glass).
  3. While I knew that dementia often accompanies PD in the later stages, I didn’t know until this week that a person with PD has two to six times the risk of dementia compared to the general population.
  4. Not too surprisingly, there are issues with mood difficulties in people who have PD, especially when the PD is combined with dementia. The top 3 mood difficulties are depression, apathy and anxiety.  (My dad is often vexed in the middle of the night, so I am grateful that he can take anti-anxiety medication.) And seriously, wouldn’t you be depressed if you were dealing with PD?
  5. Some of Dad’s behavioral issues that the family has been made aware of recently might be related to the disease or his medications — or, I can continue to believe that with age and dementia, the filters fall away and behaviors & thoughts from earlier in life come back to roost.  Nevermind the mixed metaphors, just guard your dessert plate, the kitchen counter, and the garbage can. 
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5 thoughts on “Friday 5: About Parkinson’s Disease

  1. This sounds like another one of the debilitating diseases. So happy you got a chance to visit and spend some time with your dad before he got further along. Hugs Karen

  2. I was glad to see that you were able to visit him. My father had some of the same symptoms you describe, but the main thing I learned about Parkinson’s Disease is that it looks different in every patient. For some of my father’s symptoms, we never did determine whether it was the illness or the medications causing them.

    I was always astonished at the strength in my father’s hands. The rest of his body was very weak, but if he grabbed hold of my arm, it was all I could do to pry his fingers off of me.

    One thing that usually calmed my Dad down when he was anxious or angry was singing hymns.

  3. These are very interesting facts. My father-in-law has Parkinson’s. Oddly enough, he was/is a 4-5 cup a day coffee drinker for his entire adult life. And, also oddly, he is a champion sleeper — full nights, plus at least one nap a day, in spite of all the coffee.

    • Jen, One thing I’ve learned about PD: it is unique to each person. In fact, that is part of the reason it is so difficult to diagnose. These are only 5 things out of a list of many; I’ve heard from other people that the symptoms and ways that disease manifests itself can be very different. Medication can effect any of these symptoms (either by alleviating them or causing greater issues). Since my dad was not a coffee drinker, so I’m going to hold onto a bit of hope about that “prevention” for myself — especially since all 4 of his kids inherited the benign familial essential tremor, which I have passed on to at least 2 of my own kids.

      I hope your FIL continues to sleep well. That is a blessing!

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