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Does Parkinson’s Lead to Impulse Control Disorders?

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If you provide Fort Myers Parkinson’s care for an elderly loved one, you’re likely familiar with the condition’s physical symptoms like 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. The staff at Home Care Assistance of Fort Myers provides 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 the Archives of Neurology, 13.6 percent of people with Parkinson’s have ICDs, with nearly 4 percent having more than one. 

What Are the Links Between ICDs and Parkinson’s Medications?

Seniors taking dopamine agonists like 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.

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 can also limit the impact of ICD behaviors, including:

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

To learn more about impulse control disorders and providing senior home care Fort Myers seniors with Parkinson’s can rely on, reach out to Home Care Assistance. We offer flexible part-time and live-in care plans, our caregivers are expertly trained in Parkinson’s care, and you won’t be asked to commit to a long-term contract. Call 239.449.4701 today to speak with an experienced Care Manager and schedule a complimentary consultation.