Does Bipolar Disorder Put Seniors at Greater Risk for Parkinson’s?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, bipolar disorder affects approximately 2.8 percent of adults in the United States. Because it is a disorder that affects the brain, researchers wondered whether there might be a link between having bipolar disorder and eventually developing Parkinson’s disease, which also affects the brain as well as the rest of the nervous system.

Elder Care Rochester NY - Does Bipolar Disorder Put Seniors at Greater Risk for Parkinson’s?

Elder Care Rochester NY – Does Bipolar Disorder Put Seniors at Greater Risk for Parkinson’s?

How Parkinson’s and Bipolar Disorder May Be Linked

Bipolar disorder is characterized by episodes of depression and mania. Experts suggest that a chemical called dopamine may play a role in the disorder. Dopamine is the same chemical that is implicated in Parkinson’s disease.

To determine if people with bipolar disease might be at greater risk for one day getting Parkinson’s disease, researchers looked at existing information from previous studies. They used seven studies that included a total of more than 4 million participants. The results of the study were published in the journal JAMA Neurology. They concluded that having bipolar disorder does put people at a significantly higher risk for getting Parkinson’s disease.

Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease

Although more research is needed to conclusively determine whether bipolar disorder is a risk factor for Parkinson’s disease, if your aging relative has bipolar disorder, it may be wise to watch for symptoms of Parkinson’s.

Some of the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are:

Muscle Rigidity: Muscles may become stiff and difficult to move. They may also be painful.

Tremor: Hands and arms may shake uncontrollably. The senior might also rub their fingers and thumb together while they are at rest.

Slow Movement: Doctors refer to this symptom as bradykinesia. It makes the older adult move more slowly, so that tasks take longer than normal to complete.

Changes in Posture and Balance: The senior may develop a stooped posture and have difficulty maintaining balance.

Changes in Speech: The older adult’s voice may become softer and difficult to hear. They may also have a hoarse voice or slurred speech. Some people develop a monotone voice, which means they don’t use any inflection.

Changes in Writing: People with Parkinson’s disease may have trouble writing. Their penmanship can become small and cramped.

If your older family member has bipolar disorder or Parkinson’s disease, elder care can be incredibly helpful. An elder care provider can stay with the senior when family caregivers cannot be there, ensuring they are safe and that all of their needs are being met. Elder care providers can cook meals, tidy up the house, and offer companionship to the older adult, as well as many other things.


If you or an aging loved one are considering Elder Care Services in Rochester NY, contact the caring staff at Caring Hearts of Rochester today! Serving Rochester, Pittsford, Greece, Webster, Canandaigua, Fairport, Perinton, Penfield, Brighton, Henrietta and surrounding communities. Call 585-245-0134.

John Hunt