Hallucinations and delusions associated with PD make up what is known as Parkinson’s disease psychosis. As described by two institutes that are part of the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute of Neurologic Disorders and Stroke and the National Institute of Mental Health, Parkinson’s disease psychosis may be diagnosed when a person has a pre-existing diagnosis of PD and has the experience of hallucination or delusion for at least 30 days, according to News Medical.
A diagnosis should only be made if other criteria can be ruled out, such as the presence of delirium, schizophrenia, depression, or Alzheimer’s disease psychosis.
While many PD patients and their families are aware that the disease is characterized by motor symptoms, such as rigidity, tremors, and impaired gait, non-motor symptoms, such as hallucinations or delusions, may catch them by surprise.
Most do not know that more than half of people with PD will develop these types of symptoms over the course of the disease. In addition, the onset of symptoms is frequently under-reported, either because the patient or family did not know to tell their PD specialist about these symptoms (because motor symptoms are the focus of appointments) or due to embarrassment.
However, it is vital that hallucinations and delusions be reported. According a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society, they make up one of the leading risk factors for placing a patient with PD into a nursing center or other LT/PAC center. A patient with PD who also suffers from hallucinations is 2.5 times more likely to be admitted into a nursing center, and once placed there, is likely to remain there permanently.
Read the full study at News Medical.