How Does Parkinson’s Disease Affect Impulse Control?

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Does Parkinson’s Lead to Impulse Control Disorders?

If you provide care for an elderly loved one with Parkinson’s, you’re likely familiar with the condition’s physical symptoms, such as tremors, slowed movement, and changes in speech. However, you may not be aware of some of the behavioral side effects of Parkinson’s and why they exist. Here’s some crucial information about these symptoms and how to prevent them. 

What Are Impulse Control Disorders?

An impulse control disorder (ICD) is a particular type of behavioral disturbance that makes someone unable to resist the urge to behave in a certain manner. The behaviors may be relatively normal, but their extent or frequency can lead to impaired occupational or social functioning and can damage family relationships. The most common ICDs associated with Parkinson’s disease include excessive spending, pathological gambling, and hypersexuality. According to JAMA Neurology, 13.6 percent of people with Parkinson’s have ICDs, with nearly 4 percent having more than one.

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What Are the Links between ICDs & Parkinson’s Medications?

Seniors taking dopamine agonists such as pramipexole or ropinirole to treat their Parkinson’s symptoms face at least double the risk of developing an ICD. These drugs increase levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine and stimulate the area of the brain associated with pleasure and reward, which can contribute to hedonistic and impulsive behavior. If the medication dosage increases, the incidence of ICDs can increase as well. 

Caring for a loved one with Parkinson’s can be extremely challenging, and a compassionate professional caregiver can be a wonderful source of support. Aging in place can present a few unique challenges for older adults. Some only require part-time assistance with exercise or meal preparation, while others are living with serious illnesses and benefit more significantly from receiving more extensive senior home care. Reston, VA, Assisting Hands Home Care are leaders in the elderly in-home care industry for good reason. We tailor our care plans based on each senior’s individual needs, our caregivers continue to receive updated training in senior care as new developments arise, and we also offer comprehensive care for seniors with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Parkinson’s.

What Are the Additional Risk Factors for Parkinson’s-Related ICDs?

Men tend to develop Parkinson’s-related ICDs more often than women. Other risk factors include: 

  • A history of depression
  • A personal or family history of addictive behavior or substance dependence
  • Early onset of Parkinson’s symptoms

What Steps Can Be Taken to Prevent Parkinson’s-Related ICDs?

Seniors taking dopamine agonists should be aware of the potential for ICDs and work with their families and doctors to identify harmful behaviors. If your loved one develops troubling behavior, his or her doctor may be able to change medications or alter the dosage to reduce the symptoms. Self-help measures that can limit the impact of ICD behaviors include: 

  • Restricting access to money
  • Limiting access to internet sites involving shopping, gambling, or pornography
  • Shopping only when a family member or caregiver is present
  • Joining a 12-step self-help group

Many seniors in the early stages of Parkinson’s are able to live on their own, but they may need help with the everyday tasks of life, such as exercising and preparing nutritious meals. If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Assisting Hands Home Care, a leading provider of in-home care Reston, VA, families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. If your loved one needs professional care, Assisting Hands Home Care is here to help. To hire a compassionate, dedicated caregiver, call us at 703-556-8983 today.