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Parkinson's Disease

Parkinson`s disease and memory loss

09/05/2006

Question:

My husband was diagnosed with Parkinsons last year. This week I noticed that he is having trouble recalling things and places that he should know. Does Parkinsons effect the memory?

Answer:

There are a lot of factors that may affect one's memory function.  Parkinson's disease may cause cognitive decline, and in fact, this is seen in a significant portion of PD patients after having the disease for many years.  Even early in PD, slowness of mental processing can occur, making it difficult to answer questions quickly or difficult to mental "multi-task". 

However, it is unusual to see significant memory and cognitive disturbance very early in the disease and when that happens, other issues need to be considered.  These include:  the co-existence of Alzheimer's disease, other Parkinsonian syndromes such as Lewy Body Dementia and Parkinson's Disease with Dementia.  Additional considerations include metabolic problems that may cause memory disturbance.  Lastly, mood disturbance, especially depression, may cause features of memory problems. 

It is important that any patient exhibiting memory disturbance be thoroughly examined by a neurologist.

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Response by:

Karen M Thomas, DO Karen M Thomas, DO
Formerly:
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University