Neurodegenerative illnesses such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease are both caused by damaged brain cells. Whilst they share some similarities, the two diseases are actually very different in how they manifest, present and progress.
At Home Care Assistance, our Care Workers are expertly trained in caring for people diagnosed with Parkinson’s & Alzheimer’s disease. We can help you or your loved one live safely and happily with our in-home care support. We understand Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease and their challenges. Whilst these progressive brain illnesses can’t yet be cured, those living with a diagnosis can be helped with the right care and knowledge.
We know that independence can feel at risk with a neurodegenerative diagnosis. With the right level of support from our caring and experienced Care Workers you or your loved one still has the capacity to live and age at home safely. We are here to help care, so you don’t have to do it alone.
What is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s disease is defined as a movement and mood disorder, with symptoms usually appearing gradually and progressing over time. It is estimated that in Australia there are approximately 80,000 people diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease1. Yet, the number of people who may have Parkinson’s disease is estimated to be as high as 212,000 (0.85% of the population)2.
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia in older adults. It is an irreversible degeneration of the brain resulting in a range of symptoms, most noticeably, short-term memory loss. Similarly to Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s tends to develop slowly over time and gradually worsen.
In Australia, there are an estimated 487,500 people living with dementia, with 70% of people with Alzheimer’s disease. In 2022, it is estimated that almost 1.6 million people within Australia help care for someone with dementia3.
How is the Mind Impacted?
We know that Parkinson’s disease directly impacts the area of the brain known as the substantia nigra. This area of the brain is damaged, resulting in a reduction of dopamine-producing nerve cells, which are powerful chemicals of the brain that help coordinate movement by relaying messages that plan and control body movement2.
Whilst the brain is responsible for the symptoms of Parkinson’s on the entire body, cognitive decline is less likely to occur in most patients. That is unless you or your loved one are in a more progressed stage of Parkinson’s disease, then you are more likely to exhibit neurological symptoms including hallucinations, delusions, and dementia. However, with a proper diagnosis early on, Parkinson’s patients can continue to lead independent lives especially with some in-home care support.
The hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease within the brain are the accumulation of beta-amyloid plaque between nerve cells. Previously healthy nerve cells gradually lose their connection to other nerve cells until they stop functioning entirely. This results in impaired learning, behaviour, thinking and memory. Common symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease include:
- Frequent memory difficulties, especially short-term memory
- Difficulties with communication
- Loss of enthusiasm
- Difficulty answering questions or solving problems
- Changes in personality or mood
How is the Body Impacted?
Parkinson’s disease is usually diagnosed when a patient presents with at least two of the following three symptoms:
- Tremor at rest
- Slowed movement (bradykinesia)
- Muscle ridgity4
Whilst most people associate someone who has Parkinson’s disease to tremor, this is not always the case. Additionally, Parkinson’s disease can be quite sneaky in that it might start with a minor tremor and evolve into other difficulties.
Non-motor body symptoms of Parkinson’s disease can include:
- Difficulty swallowing and chewing
- Difficulty speaking
- Constipation/ bladder problems
- Sleep disorders
- Impaired sense of smell
- Sexual dysfunction
- Mental health issues including anxiety and depression.
Often the non-motor symptoms can be the catalyst for requiring in-home care services support, such as Home Care Assistance.
There is no doubt that Alzheimer’s disease affects the brain from functioning normally. This can as a result present with other body symptoms such as difficulty carrying out everyday tasks. In the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease, physical ability may be notably compromised with issues such as swallowing and difficulty speaking.
What Treatment & Support is Available?
There is currently no cure for Parkinson’s disease yet there are effective medications, treatments and therapy options that can help alleviate symptoms. Ensuring you or your loved one has the right care is essential in slowing down the progression of symptoms2.
There is also no known cure for dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. There are medications that may assist in the reduction of some symptoms to help improve quality of life. Having a safe and comfortable home environment provides a familiar setting and helps avoid agitation.
Join Our Newsletter
Our Latest News
As a leading age care provider, Home Care Assistance offers tailored in-home care services for older Australians, enabling them to live happier and healthier lives in the comfort of their own homes.
We offer private and government subsidised Care Packages and have office locations that are a registered NDIS provider. Our Care Workers undergo extensive training in order to deliver unmatched in-home aged care services where people can continue ageing in place. We are proud ambassadors of the My Aged Care government funded aged care program, enabling Australians to successfully navigate the process and gain approval for in-home care support packages. Home Care Assistance offers hourly care, specialised care, Alzheimer’s and Dementia care, hospital to home care, and 24 hour in home care.