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< Back to Differential Diagnosis

Differential Diagnosis of Parkinson's Disease Dementia

Key features

  • Parkinson's is classified chiefly as a movement disorder, with hallmark symptoms including tremors and shakiness, stiffness, difficulty with walking and muscle control, lack of facial expression and impaired speech.
  • Many individuals with Parkinson's develop dementia in later stages of the disease.


The FDA has approved rivastigmine (Exelon), a cholinesterase inhibitor, to treat mild-to-moderate dementia associated with Parkinson's disease. Other cholinesterase inhibitors may receive similar approval in the future.


Parkinson's is another disease, in addition to dementia with Lewy bodies, in which Lewy bodies are found in the brain. The disease causes extensive loss of certain neurons in a brain region called the substantia nigra. This region also experiences gliosis, or the proliferation of helper cells called astrocytes in areas where neurons once existed.

For your patients and families: Parkinson's Disease Dementia


Alzheimer's Association

Our vision: A world without Alzheimer's disease®.
Formed in 1980, the Alzheimer's Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's care, support and research.