My spouse has Parkinson's with mild dementia. She is having...

2 answers | Last updated: Oct 30, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My spouse has Parkinson's with mild dementia. She is having several of the symptoms of Alzheimer's but is being treated for Parkinson's only. Exelon patch is supposed to improve memory but the dementia seems to be getting worse. Would Aricept be a medication she should try?

Expert Answers

Joanne Koenig Coste is a nationally recognized expert on Alzheimer's care and an outspoken advocate for patient and family care. She is the author of Learning to Speak Alzheimer's. Also, she currently is in private practice as an Alzheimer's family therapist. Ms. Koenig Coste also serves as President of Alzheimer Consulting Associates, implementing state-of-the-art Alzheimer care throughout the United States.

This is not an unusual query as each year more and more folks are diagnosed with a progressive neurological dementia caused by something other than Alzheimer's. Lewy Body disease, which comprises about 20% of these people, bears a remarkable resemblance to Parkinson's and can be easily misdiagnosed in the early stages. There is a Lewy Body Foundation, with a web site, that may be helpful in comparing your spouse's symptoms. Medications prescribed for Alzheimer's don't always work as well for Lewy Body patients and may have adverse effects so don't rush to have your physician write a script. Perhaps a second opinion might be quite helpful. It is certainly much easier to treat the manifestations of a disease if we know what that disease truly is. Be sure to express all of your concerns to the medical community - you are her voice now.

Community Answers

Angela taylor answered...

There are several brands of cholinesterase inhibitors, which is the class of drugs used to treat cognition in Lewy body dementias (LBD) including Parkinson's disease dementia (PDD). At the current time, only Excelon is FDA approved for PDD but LBD experts consider this class of drugs to be the gold standard for LBD cognitive symptoms.

If one brand is not well tolerated by someone with LBD, doctors usually recommend trying another brand of the same class of drug.

I encourage you to visit the Lewy Body Dementia Assocation for information on diagnosis, treatment and caregiving for Lewy body dementias. You can find them on the web at