Cognition and PD

Cognitive changes can occur in Parkinson's Disease (PD).  Cognitive changes can affect quality of life for both the person with PD and the caregiver/family. Here are some good resources on cognitive changes in PD.

Downloadable Documents | Online Articles | Podcasts & Webinars | Expert-level Resources

Downloadable Documents (PDF)

Cognition: A Mind Guide to Parkinson’s Disease

Published by the National Parkinson Foundation (Now the Parkinson’s Foundation), 2017

This 48-page booklet (PDF) offers coping strategies for people with cognitive changes due to Parkinson’s disease, and their caregivers. The information, tips, and stories are intended to help organize thoughts and questions for your medical team.  
Click here to order a free paper copy.

Cognitive Impairment and Behavioral Problems in Parkinson’s Disease: Essential Facts for Patients

Published by the International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society (MDS), 2016

This 1-page fact sheet (PDF) outlines the types of cognitive problems that can happen in Parkinson’s disease, including hallucinations and delusions.  It briefly addresses why they occur, what you can do to delay cognitive symptoms and medications that may help.  Everyone with Parkinson’s should have their estate documents (will, trust and powers of attorney).

Make Your Voice Heard! Healthy Communication and Parkinson's Disease

By the American Parkinson Disease Association, 2019

This 17-page booklet (PDF) describes changes to the voice, speech, facial expression, and cognition due to Parkinson's disease, along with treatment options and things you can do right now to compensate for these changes.

Mind, Mood & Memory

Edited by Rebecca Martine, APRN, and John Duda, MD.  Published by National Parkinson Foundation (Now the Parkinson's Foundation)

This 94-page booklet (PDF) provides an overview of the mental health aspects of PD, including depression, anxiety, loss of emotional control, and loss of impulse control, and how they can be effectively manage. Changes in memory, confusional states, daytime sleepiness, sleep problems, and generalized fatigue are addressed. There's a full chapter on Dementia with Lewy Bodies.  
En Español: La Enfermedad de Parkinson: Mente, Estado de Animo y Memoria

Navigating Cognitive Changes in Parkinson’s Disease: A Guide for Patients and Families

By Rachel Dolhun, MD.  Published by the Michael J. Fox Foundation, September 2019

Cognitive change is a common non-motor symptom of Parkinson’s. Attention, memory, executive function, language and visuospatial skills may be affected.  This 35-page booklet (PDF) shares ways boost brain health and how to keep track of cognitive changes. It defines mild cognitive impairment and dementia, and shares treatments and management tips for dementia, hallucinations and delusions. It encourages families to communicate about cognitive change and cites areas of ongoing research in dementia.

Online Articles

Cognitive Changes

Published by Parkinson's Foundation

This webpage notes that mental and motor decline tend to occur together as Parkinson's progresses. Cognitive impairment is different from dementia but can still have a negative impact on caregiver stress and quality of life. The causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and co-existing conditions that affect thinking and memory, as well as treatment and tips for caregivers are summarized.

Memory & Thinking Problems

Published by the Michael J. Fox Foundation

This webpage defines mild cognitive impairment and the dementia associated with Parkinson's disease, causes and treatments, evaluating cognitive problems with your doctor, maintaining brain health, and ongoing research.

Cognitive Changes

By Jennifer G. Goldman, MD, MS.  Published by APDA National Young Onset Center, August 2011 

The author, a neurologist, defines “cognition," describes cognitive changes in PD, and offers other reasons for cognitive symptoms.
En Español: Cambios Cognitivos en la enfermedad de Parkinson

Podcasts & Webinars

Ask the MD: Cognitive Impairment and Parkinson’s Disease

Byy The Michael J. Fox Foundation, Foxfeed Blog, September 14, 2016

This 4:27-minute video is an explanation of cognitive changes that can happen in Parkinson’s disease.  Dr. Rachel Dolhun explains how doctors evaluate cognitive changes to exclude other conditions that may be correctable.  She distinguishes between mild cognitive impairment and dementia, with some treatments for each.

Brain Boost: A Conversation on Thinking

By the Michael J. Fox Foundation, March 18, 2021

In this 1-hour webinar a panel of experts and a person with Lewy Body Dementia answered moderator questions about cognitive changes typical in those with Parkinson's Disease (PD) and Lewy Body Dementia (LBD).  They discussed what's normal and what's not, the impact cognitive changes have on everyday life, what you can do to preserve brain health, strategies for both the person with PD and care partners to cope with cognitive changes, and what researchers know about predicting who is likely to suffer significant cognitive change with PD.

Caregiving Strategies for PD Dementia

By PMD Alliance, January 11, 2021

In this 1-hour webinar Angelo Domingo, Psy.D. does a good job of explaining the cognitive changes caregivers can expect in the later stages of Parkinson's and shared numerous tips for accomplishing daily tasks as smoothly as possible despite those changes.  

Cognition & How it Relates to Other Non-Motor Symptoms

By the Davis Phinney Foundation, October 30, 2019

In this 1-hour webinar Dr. Jennifer Goldman discusses how the non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s affect cognition, behavior, sleep, autonomic function and sensory function.  If non-motor symptoms become more pronounced as Parkinson’s progresses, quality of life may be greatly impacted.  [Registration is required, but is free.]

Cognition and Mood and How to Manage Them

By Davis Phinney Foundation, October 3, 2020

In this 50-minute webinar Greg Pontone, MD, distinguishes the cognitive changes commonly seen in those with dementia from the cognitive changes seen in Parkinson's disease (PD).  He shares medications used to treat dementia and highlights those that are more effective for the cognitive changes in Parkinson's.  Dr. Pontone also talks about depression and anxiety; specifically, the impact depression has on quality of life, and meditations to treat it, and how increased feelings of anxiety can be directly related to the wearing-off of medications. 
Webinar notes on the Stanford PD Community Blog

Cognition & PD

By the American Parkinson Disease Association, February 17, 2021

In this 1-hour webinar, movement disorders specialist Kathleen Poston, MD, explains the value of having a thorough cognitive evaluation as a baseline for those with PD.  She also discusses how to identify concurrent issues that can make cognitive changes worse, and shares both medication and non-medication strategies for addressing cognitive changes, before answering questions.

Cognition and Psychosis

By PMD Alliance, June 17 2020

In this 48-minute webinar, geriatric psychiatrist Daniel Weintraub, MD, provides an overview of the neuropsychiatric and cognitive symptoms that can occur in PD, as well as how those symptoms can be managed.  
Webinar notes on the Stanford PD Community Blog

Cognition, Caring and Coping

By the World Parkinson Coalition, September 2020

This 1-hour virtual panel begins with a series of short presentations on cognitive changes in people with Parkinson’s by four speakers with different experiences in this topic: a registered nurse, a social worker, and a person with Parkinson’s with his caregiver husband. Following the presentations, the discussion and question and answer period was focused on the role of PD caregivers when a person with PD is experiencing cognitive changes. 

Cognitive Issues: Advice for Parkinson’s Care Partners

By the Parkinson’s Foundation, November 10, 2015 

In this 1-hour webinar, movement disorder specialist Dr. Rebecca Gilbert discusses why cognitive issues are part of PD, types of cognitive issues in PD, modifiable causes of cognitive issues, what can improve cognition, the impact psychosis and visual hallucinations on people with PD, lifestyle modifications that can improve quality of life for both the person with PD and their care partner.

Dealing with Dementia in PD

By the Parkinson’s Foundation, March 1, 2016

In this 1-hour webinar movement disorder specialist, Dr. Jennifer Goldman, provides an overview of clinical symptoms and current research on the risks for and causes of dementia in PD.  She discusses treatment and management strategies, along with practical tips and resources for people with Parkinson’s and care partners dealing with dementia in PD.

Dementia and Parkinson's Disease

By Parkinson Society British Columbia, October 28, 2020

In this 2-hour webinar geriatrician Naaz Parmar provides an understanding of dementia as a disease, the different subtypes of dementia, and how they affect a person with concurrent PD. This webinar also gives an overview of treatment options with lifestyle changes and medications. Coping strategies for a person with dementia and their loved ones, will also be discussed.

How the Brain Progresses With PD

By PMD Alliance, November 5, 2020

In this one-hour webinar movement disorder specialist Yasar Torres-Yaghi shared how the pathology of Parkinson's disease begins in the gut before progressing to the brain.  As the pathology expands throughout the brain it affects more neurotransnitters than just dopamine causing both motor and non-motor symptoms.  Dr. Torres-Yaghi shares a widely used cognitive evaluation tool before answering questions about communicating well with your neurologist and advocating for the care you need.

Mental Health and PD

By the Parkinson’s Foundation, September 18, 2018

In this 1-hour webinar psychiatrist Laura March discusses the overlap of motor, cognitive, and psychiatric aspects of PD, as well as describing the features of co-morbid psychiatric disturbances, including depression, anxiety and psychosis along with general approaches to treatment.

Psychiatric & Cognitive Complications in Parkinson’s

By the Davis Phinney Foundation, September 11, 2019 

Depression, anxiety, cognitive decline, psychosis and impulse control can be common in people with Parkinson’s.  They affect quality of life for both people with Parkinson’s and care partners. In this webinar Dr Daniel Weintraub discusses these issues, the correlation between mood, motor function and Levodopa levels, and more.  Registration is required, but it is free.
Webinar notes on the Stanford PD Community Blog

Spark: The Panel Discussion following the documentary about Robin Williams and his Battle With Lewy Body Dementia

By the Family Caregiver Alliance, June 30, 2021

In this 42-minute webinar Bruce Miller, MD, answers questions about Parkinson's Disease and Lewy Body Dementia (LBD).  Panelists Dianne and Denise share their experiences getting diagnosed and caregiving for family members with LBD.
Webinar Notes on the Stanford PD Community Blog

Strategies for Combating Cognitive Decline in PD

Presented at the 8th Annual Conference on Parkinson’s Disease for Patients and Caregivers, October 24, 2015

This half hour lecture by Dr. Kate Possin focuses on strategies to maximize cognitive function and quality of life in Parkinson’s disease by sharing memory strategies, and explaining the effect on the brain of neurotransmitter changes, medications, physical and mental exercise, heart health, and stress reduction.


Thinking and Memory Problems with Parkinson's Disease

By the Veteran's Administration

This 8-minute video alternates between an interview with a man sharing his memory problems due to Parkinson's disease, with doctors explaining how cognitive changes and memory problems manifest in PD and how they test to determine if those changes are significant enough to be treated as dementia.

Thinking Changes in Parkinson's - Engaging Neuropsychology

By the Parkinson's Foundation, January 6, 2021

In this 1-hour webinar Travis Turner, PhD, explains why you might be referred for a neuropsychological evaluation, what is done during such an evaluation, how the information learned during an evaluation is used, and tips for performing your best during an evaluation.  After the talk he answered several questions about coping with cognitive changes when you have PD or are caring for someone with PD.


Understanding Thinking Changes in Parkinson's Disease

By the Parkinson's Foundation, April 7, 2021

In this 1-hour webinar listeners will learn key features of cognitive impairment in Parkinson’s disease, including what symptoms may occur and why they may develop. Strategies for dealing with cognitive changes will be discussed, along with medications and potential research interventions in the field. An interdisciplinary approach regarding cognitive impairment in Parkinson’s disease will be highlighted with the role of the movement disorders neurologist on the team.

Expert-Level Resources

Cognitive Impairment and Dementia

Published by Medscape News. [Must sign up for a free Medscape account to view.]

This section from an article on psychiatric aspects of PD focuses on cognitive impairment and dementia. There is also a short discussion of the subtle differences between Parkinson's Disease Dementia and Dementia with Lewy Bodies.

Last updated April 2021 by Stanford Parkinson's Community Outreach.