Mom has moderate Alzheimer's and recently began exhibiting the Parkinsonian Gait & shuffling. Could she also have Parkinson's?

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Mom started out with MCI (Mild Cognitive Impairment) about 8-9 years ago and it slowly progressed till last summer she was diagnosed officially with Alzheimer's after her brain scans showed damage indicative of Alzheimer's as primary and vascular/mixed as secondary. Up until the last six months she was able to go for walks in the park and her gym work outs with no real balance or shuffling issues. She has declined in the past six months and her confusion and gait and shuffling has gotten much worse in the past month. When I look at video's showing the Parkinsonian gait/shuffle that's exactly how she's walking now. Just this week we started helping her in the shower and are considering a walker too. She has neurologist appointments every three months, so she's going in two weeks. Hard to believe 3 months ago they watched her walk down the hallway and thought she looked fine. Her father had Parkinson's, her brother has Alzheimer's. Do you think it's possible she's developing Parkinson's on top of her Alzheimer's, or maybe that's just the pattern of the brain damage and it's now affecting her dopamine levels? Can you think of any good questions I should bring up at the next neurologist's appointment in two weeks? UGH...this stinks.

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Update: Saw the neurologist today, and she ordered several tests, full blood work, EEG, and MRI w/ and w/o contrast. She thinks Mom has a movement disorder and called it an "ism" So on top of the Azheimer's and mixed dementia, now there might be a movement disorder.

I'm skeptical that all these tests are going to reveal something super helpful, but on the off chance that they do, I feel that we must go through with them.
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Llamalover47 Aug 14, 2018
JJGood: "You're skeptical that all these tests are going to reveal something super helpful?" What am I missing? I thought that you WANTED the tests to help you. Or did you leave out the word, "not?"
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Please get her assessed by her neurologist as soon as possible.
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JJGood19 Aug 14, 2018
Clarification: I am hopeful that these tests reveal information that is useful, that there's actually something we can do, however, the last round of tests were done because "we were going to treat the Alzheimer's aggressively" and the plan of treatment was EXACTLY what we were already doing. So the tests were basically just a confirmation, yes Mom has dementia, it looks a lot like Alzheimer's in the brain. So I am skeptical, or maybe cynical is a better description. I'm NOT NOT going to go through with them on the chance that we can actually help Mom, but I hate getting my hopes up, not to mention, have you ever tried to have a person with moderate dementia sit through some of these tests? An MRI is loud and scary...
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I forgot to mention the shuffling. Every time my husband does it, I remind him to use his heel first. Heel to toe. It works. He also has dementia which I thought was brought on by the carbidopa med. My husband is doing physical and occupational therapy rehab now and the mental difference and walking has changed to the better. People are remarking about his change.

You should ask the Dr. to give you a prescription for rehab. Try to nip your Moms physical limitations while they are new. Medicare will pay 80% with the prescription. Plus, the therapist will teach her how to use a walker and you’ll be reinforcing those lessons at home. It’s a win - win.
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Ask your doctor to check for Parkinson's Disease. He/she will do the test right there in his'her office. My dad was just seen by his neurologist and he did the test without my asking. He did it because he noticed that my dad's expression doesn't change and he doesn't blink very much. He was on a medication that had a side effect of tremors (which my dad had both shaking hands and legs). He discontinued the medication and started a new one to see if the tremors stop. He just said that he was pretty sure that my dad has Parkinson's Disease. My father has Alzheimer's Disease and Vascular Dementia.

When I got home, I did some of my own research. There is also a disorder that mimics PD. My mother had PD and Lewy Body Dementia, she passed in 2005. It hit me really hard to know that my dad may go down the same road that mom did. The difference is that we had each other for support, and I don't have much support. Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP) is something else that you may want to check out if your mom doesn't have tremors.

I hope that everything goes well for you and your mom. This journey is definitely not for the faint at heart. Be well!
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Reply to MBuckley
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If it is Parkinson, see if there is a Delay the Disease class nearby. It is an exercise class developed specifically for those with all stages of Parkinson’s. My mom loved it until her dementia got to the point where she really couldn’t follow it anymore.
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Reply to GertrudeH
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It's possible that she has Parkinsons, especially as her parent did. And gait disturbances like this can be part of Alzheimer's. But it's also possible that the Parkinson like gait and symptoms are the result of medications that she is taking for her MCI. The sooner she see the neurologist the better. This kind of side effect can be permanent so it it's the meds, they need to be adjusted or changed soon.
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Reply to DoingbestIcan
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It is very possible she could be getting Parkinson’s. The dopamine replacement pills come with an entire list of side effects that your Mom will have a 50/50 chance of getting. My husband got all of them.

If it is Parkinson’s get her to the gym. Cycling is the best. You mentioned she was going to the gym, did she stop going? If so, did you see these new problems start to emerge since? Through exercise you might be able to stop whatever the progress of the disease is coming. You might even be able to hold off taking carbidopa.

When she walks stand behind her and look to see if her arms hang down while she walking. If so, it’s Parkinson’s. If your Neurologist is not a movement specialist, then he might not be on his game as much as the specialist.

What your trying to do through daily trips to the gym for at least a 45 min. workout, is to hold off taking those meds. You have two weeks before the appt., try the gym. Diet is important too. Cut out sugar.
Blueberries is brain food. Look up others. Getting her a walker won’t hurt if it keeps her moving. Encourage her to walk.

With Parkinson’s, sitting means disease progression. Moving the body means putting a halt or a slowing down of its victimization.

You bet MJ Fox, Alan Alda, Neil Diamond et al, all have a gym in their home. Good luck and don’t forget yoga for balance.
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Most definitely bring it up and maybe either write a note to convey this concern and your observations to hand the staff to give to MD at your appointment or call ahead to voice the concern. I would also wonder about medications and if one is contributing. I think in our area there may be exercise/dance classes/programs because they have found this helps...
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Reply to gdaughter
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Mok has Alzheimer's and not Parkinson's. She has the shuffling gait that has progressed to a toddlers walk. She uses a walker
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Reply to MACinCT
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I echo a previous post, have her checked for Lewy Body dementia. And good luck to all of you.
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