||Problems with thinking,
reasoning and remembering in people with Parkinson's disease
"I often come up with the
answer long after the question was asked"
to the slowness of movement typical of people with Parkinson’s disease
(PD), you may also find that you are slower in thinking, reasoning and
remembering. These cognitive changes can be very frustrating, but are
seldom disabling. Only a minority, perhaps 20% of people with PD, have
more significant problems of dementia that interfere with quality of life.
most common cognitive changes include slowed ability to think and process
information. You may find it difficult to come up with new ways of solving
problems and to change from one subject to another. While changes in
memory are less frequent, people with PD tend to forget where and when
information was obtained but remember the information itself. You may
recall information much better if given cues, or multiple choices to
are likely to be worst when you are anxious, tired or hurried. You can
make life easier by always allowing yourself plenty of time and avoiding
stressful situations. Simplify information and concentrate on what is most
relevant. Make full use of prompts, such as diaries, verbal and written
reminders and alarms.
(usually taking the form of seeing people or animals that are not there)
and delusions (believing things that are not true) can be related to PD or
to PD medication. A change in dose, or of drug, may be sufficient for them
Top of Page
development of more serious memory and thinking problems leading to
dementia can be easily overlooked. Family and carers can wrongly
attribute the slow development of unreliability and behavioural changes
to intentional behaviour and laziness. Misunderstanding can then lead to
resentment and frustration.
should not jump to the conclusion that any problem with your memory or
thinking is due to PD. Everybody takes longer to react and to remember
things as they get older. Drug treatment (for PD and for other
conditions), depression, infections and metabolic upsets are common
causes of confusion and are easily treatable. People with PD can develop
other conditions, such as stroke and Alzheimer’s disease, in the same
way as anyone else.
visual hallucinations and confusion develop within a few months of onset
of parkinsonism, the diagnosis may be a condition called dementia with
Lewy bodies (DLB), rather than PD. Some authorities think that DLB and
PD with dementia are the same condition. Both groups of patients may
benefit from the new cholinergic drugs developed for Alzheimer’s
You should seek specialist advice from a doctor
or psychologist if you are concerned about your memory and thinking.
Useful books include:
‘Coping with Memory Problems’, by Linda
Clare and Barbara Wilson, published in
1997 by Thames Valley Test Company. ISBN 1 874 261 113.
Useful websites include:
Memory - Helping Yourself
Lewy Body Dementia Association Inc