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The Impulsive & Compulsive Behaviors of Parkinson’s

Caring for a loved one with Parkinson’s is a labor of love. Parkinson’s is not only taxing on the patient, it is taxing on their loved ones who want to provide them with the highest level of quality care at home. One issue in particular that caregivers often encounter is the onset of impulsive and compulsive behaviors. Fortunately, with the right amount of knowledge and effort, you can learn to help your loved one cope with these behaviors and learn more about what triggers them.

What behaviors are included in these categories?

Impulsive and compulsive behavior, sometimes classified as Impulse Control Disorder, can be a possible side effect of medicines used to treat Parkinson’s. Impulsive behavior is a decreased ability to resist indulgences. This often includes:

  • Gambling
  • Over-eating
  • Hypersexuality
  • Impulsive shopping
  • Alcohol or drug abuse

Impulsive behavior is further exacerbated by sluggish thinking or poor decision-making skills, two symptoms that are commonly associated with PD. Patients showing signs of poor impulse control might indulge in one of the above acts repeatedly, despite negative effects on their health, finances, or relationships.

Compulsive behaviors, however, are repetitive actions performed as a coping mechanism for stress or as a response to stress. This may be seen in the form of repeated hand motions, excessive self-grooming, or taking apart household objects. Because patients tend to exhibit these behaviors more frequently at night, around the clock monitoring is often required to ensure safety. Click here to learn more about live-in, around the clock monitoring from Home Care Assistance.

What do I need to know about these types of behaviors?

These behaviors can most often be attributed to dopamine agonists such as bromocriptine, pramipexole, apomorphine or medications such as levodopa. If you suspect that medication might be the cause, you should talk to your loved one’s doctor about possibly switching to a different medication or adjusting the dosages. You also must know that these behaviors are not intentional, and your loved one is not trying to make these decisions – these behaviors are the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain. Patients with a history of addictive behavior or a family history of addiction are more likely to exhibit these symptoms.

How can I help my aging parent or loved one cope?

Your loved one might not be aware that they are behaving compulsively or impulsively. If they are aware, it is highly likely that they are upset and may be angry or sad at themselves as a result. You can help your aging parent or loved one cope by talking to their doctor about their medications and dosage, redirecting their behaviors by assigning tasks, and just by being there to listen and being sensitive to how they feel.

If you need help managing the care of an aging loved one with Parkinson’s, know that you are not alone. Home Care Assistance of Albuquerque is here to help. We offer flexible hourly and live-in care, designed specifically to address the needs of seniors with Parkinson’s. Learn more about premier Parkinson’s care in Albuquerque by contacting a Care Manager at 505-798-0800.