April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month.
To increase awareness around this disease, Kensington Park Senior Living was pleased to host “Breakthrough Innovations in Parkinson’s Treatment with Cedars-Sinai & UCLA.”
Our special guests included Dr. Michele Tagliati, Director of the Movement Disorders Program at Cedars-Sinai, and Dr. Jeff Bronstein, Director of Movement Disorders and Professor of Neurology at UCLA.
Don’t miss your opportunity to learn more about Parkinson’s disease, its challenges, and the most recent medical and surgical interventions in our event recording here.
Parkinson’s disease—its prevalence and impact on patients and their caregivers
Parkinson’s is the second most common neurological disorder after Alzheimer’s, affecting around 10 million people globally.
Each year in the United States, around 90,000 people are diagnosed with the disease, and this number is expected to rise along with the growing aging population.
For most Parkinson’s patients, the average onset age is around 60 years old. However, for about 5-10% of these cases, the symptoms began before the age of 50, creating “early-onset Parkinson’s disease.”
As you already know, Parkinson’s disease has a profound impact on the lives of seniors and their caregiving family members.
Parkinson’s disease is characterized by tremors, shaking, muscle stiffness, and walking and balance disturbances. It also impacts the brain in non-motor ways, such as creating cognitive decline, sleep disturbances, and depression.
Parkinson’s disease in some instances can progress to dementia, creating what’s known as “Parkinson’s disease dementia.”
Breakthroughs in drug therapies for Parkinson’s treatment
As of 2023, there is no definitive cure for Parkinson’s disease.
However, there are many treatments available for improving the quality of life and managing symptoms of the disease.
The most common drug, Levodopa, is the gold standard for treating Parkinson’s disease symptoms, which acts by creating more dopamine for the brain to improve central nervous system function.
Other cutting-edge medications that show promise in treating or curing Parkinson’s disease include the following.
Also known by its drug name istradefylline, this drug is used in conjunction with Levodopa to provide more around-the-clock relief for Parkinson’s symptoms.
During “off-time” episodes, Parkinson’s patients may experience worsening symptoms, which can be caused by Levodopa losing its effectiveness.
For this reason, Nourianz is prescribed as an “add-on” that can help improve the treatments patients receive from Levodopa.
Aducanumab, or Aduhelm, is a new medication that was created to remove amyloid-beta plaques in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.
However, researchers found this drug was also effective in targeting alpha-synuclein, a different kind of protein that accumulates in the brains of people with Parkinson’s disease.
The drug fights the root cause of Parkinson’s disease — proteins in the brain and eliminates those clubs to improve brain function and slow down the progression of Parkinson’s.
Future research opportunities for treating Parkinson’s disease
Parkinson’s disease treatments have dramatically improved the quality of life for many patients, but there’s still a long way to go.
One of the most promising new therapies is Deep Brain Stimulation, which uses electrodes implanted into the brain to send electrical impulses to improve motor function.
Michael J. Fox Foundation’s support for DBS technology
The Michael J. Fox Foundation has actively supported research and development in Deep Brain Stimulation technology.
The foundation has funded numerous studies to refine and optimize DBS techniques, including exploring new brain areas for stimulation and developing next-generation devices.
The evolving landscape of Parkinson’s disease diagnosis
There is no single test that can diagnose Parkinson’s disease. Doctors rely on a multitude of tests and symptoms to help diagnose the disease.
In many cases, doctors use imaging tests such as MRI, PET, or CT scans to rule out other diseases that may be causing the symptoms. Additionally, doctors may perform tests to measure dopamine levels in the brain.
Biomarkers in blood and plasma
Biomarkers are chemicals that indicate diseases found in the body. Researchers are exploring new biomarkers found in blood and plasma, such as alpha-synuclein, that can be indicators of Parkinson’s disease.
Spinal fluid analysis
Similar to blood and plasma testing, spinal fluid can also contain biomarkers to diagnose Parkinson’s disease.
New imaging scans
In addition to MRIs and CT scans, new PET imaging technology is being developed to detect tau proteins in the brain, which is associated with Parkinson’s disease and other dementias.
Doctors can take three small skin samples to test for phosphorylated alpha-synuclein, which is the main protein associated with Parkinson’s disease.
New digital diagnosis tools that track eye movement and analyze voice
Other early indicators of Parkinson’s disease are wandering eyes and changes in the voice, which can be monitored more closely and analyzed using new digital diagnostic tools.
How memory care support can help those with Parkinson’s
Parkinson’s disease affects motor function and cognitive function, contributing to cognitive decline and memory problems.
Memory care support is a critical component in the comprehensive management of Parkinson’s disease to improve the quality of life for residents and their families.
Memory support therapy uses brain games, activities, and therapies to slow down the progression of cognitive decline.
Medication management made simpler
People with Parkinson’s require multiple medications daily to manage their symptoms, and a dedicated memory care team can ensure your loved one is taking the correct doses at the right times.
Nutritional support and physical rehabilitation therapies
Some people with Parkinson’s may have difficulty eating and swallowing due to muscle problems.
Memory care specialists can use speech therapy to help residents speak and swallow, and ensure they’re getting a healthy diet for proper nutrition, as well as physical therapy.
Memory care environments are free of tripping hazards and use color coding to help residents navigate and remember their environment.
Emotional and social support
Parkinson’s residents may experience feelings of isolation, anxiety, or depression because of their disease. Memory care specialists can provide emotional and social support to help residents cope with the emotional challenges of Parkinson’s disease.
Kensington Park Senior Living’s commitment to exceptional Parkinson’s care
At Kensington Park, we are committed to providing exceptional memory care for people living with Parkinson’s disease.
Our dedicated team of caregivers and healthcare progressions are equipped with the latest knowledge and skills necessary to provide the highest level of care to our residents.
Our two memory care neighborhoods, Haven and Connections, provide memory care support for residents in all stages of Parkinson’s disease, offering a higher continuum of care than you’ll find at most communities. Our independent living and assisted living neighborhoods also cater to the stages and levels of need on an individual basis.
Contact us today to schedule a tour of our community and learn why Kensington Park is a leader in Parkinson’s care.