Lewy body dementia is the second leading cause of neurodegenerative dementia. It is second only to Alzheimer's. This means that it affects millions of people around the world and leads to significant death tolls. "Neurodegenerative" refers to a set of symptoms that affects the brain and causes it to deteriorate in various ways. Lewy body dementia typically attacks the thinking, memory, and motor skills areas of the brain. Yet it can affect the automatic nervous system as well and cause visual information to be corrupted by the brain. As with all types of dementia, Lewy body dementia is progressive and incurable.

Symptoms of Lewy Body Dementia

Some of the first symptoms of Lewy body dementia are difficulty with thinking and remembering as well as rapid changes in balance or motor skills. Symptoms may even include hallucinations or nightmares. Lewy body dementia patients tend to decline rapidly as compared to those with Alzheimer's. They often have troublesome reactions to dreams, acting them out quite vividly, before they begin to lose thought or memory. This is one way to spot early development of the disease, but it relies on close observation by someone nearby. It is hard to detect if the person lives alone or does not receive round-the-clock monitoring.

How It Differs from Alzheimer's

When someone experiences symptoms caused by Lewy body dementia, it can, at first, appear to be Alzheimer's. It is often misdiagnosed as such (or, almost as commonly, as Parkinson's Disease). However, Lewy body dementia differs in a few key ways which can be used to diagnose and properly treat it.

First, it frequently starts earlier and develops faster than Alzheimer's. The decline tends to be rapid and symptoms start showing when patients are younger. It also tends to affect memory more slowly than Alzheimer's. Patients with Lewy body dementia can forget the faces of family members or have trouble remembering the date. Yet they are more likely to experience visual or auditory hallucinations or have trouble making decisions and thinking.

A shorthand way to distinguish the two is to think that Alzheimer's affects memories of the past, and Lewy body dementia affects brain functions in the present. Lewy body dementia also frequently affects movement, similarly to Parkinson's. It can cause hunched posture or produce jerky, tense movements.

What To Do if You Notice Any Signs

Caregivers who are concerned that their charges may have Lewy body dementia should contact a primary care physician. After speaking with the physician, they should request a referral to a neurologist. Any type of treatment should be suspended until obtaining a firm professional answer as to what is causing the worrying symptoms. Early diagnosis and treatment can help to preserve brain health. However, improper diagnosis and treatment can make matters worse. If possible, caregivers should make plans to keep their charges safe when not under someone's direct care. Many forms of dementia also cause wandering or episodes of confusion. These symptoms can lead to injury or even death, and they should be taken very seriously.

Additional Opinions

Second or even third opinions are musts, even if the first physician's diagnosis is Lewy body dementia. Several kinds of diseases exhibit similar characteristics, especially in the early stages. Unfortunately, some of these are impossible to diagnose with perfect certainty until after the death of the patient. As such, they are easy to misdiagnose. Getting multiple opinions can help identify the best possible course of action.

Dementia often appears to be the end of the world, but it truly does not have to be. There are clinical treatments that are successful at aiding or maintaining neurological health. Even new or holistic treatments like exercise, diet, and communication skills may help. Family members should read up on the latest research and discuss it with their healthcare teams. Although Lewy body dementia is not yet curable, many seniors with it can still lead long, full, and healthy lives.

More from SeniorsMatter.com on Dementia

Sources

Alzheimer's Association. Dementia with Lewy Bodies. Available at http://www.alz.org/dementia/dementia-with-lewy-bodies-symptoms.asp. Retrieved September 25, 2016.

Lewy Body Dementia Association (LBDA). What is LBD? LBDA.org. Available at https://www.lbda.org/category/3437/what-is-lbd.htm. Retrieved September 25, 2016.

Related Articles

Laughter on Call’s ‘Comedy Care’ Is Creating Much Needed Connections Laughter on Call’s ‘Comedy Care’ Is Creating Much Needed Connections
Should We Tell the Truth to Dementia Patients? Should We Tell the Truth to Dementia Patients?
Visiting a Terminally Ill or Unresponsive Loved One Visiting a Terminally Ill or Unresponsive Loved One
Light Therapy for Sundowners Light Therapy for Sundowners
Helping Those with Alzheimer’s With Eating Helping Those with Alzheimer’s With Eating
Dementia and “Little White Lies” Dementia and “Little White Lies”
Danner and Swank: Using Caregiver Experience in “What They Had” Roles Danner and Swank: Using Caregiver Experience in “What They Had” Roles
Food and Memory – How are they linked? Food and Memory – How are they linked?
What Benefits does Medicare Provide for Alzheimer’s Patients? What Benefits does Medicare Provide for Alzheimer’s Patients?
The First Signs of Alzheimer’s: Spatial Navigation The First Signs of Alzheimer’s: Spatial Navigation
Is Alzheimer’s Inherited? Understand the Details Is Alzheimer’s Inherited? Understand the Details
Caregiving with a Camera: The Loving Lens of Arlene Gottfried Caregiving with a Camera: The Loving Lens of Arlene Gottfried

Trending Topics

The Best No-Rinse Body Wash Review 2020 The Best No-Rinse Body Wash Review 2020
Elderly Skin Bruising:  What May Be Going On Elderly Skin Bruising: What May Be Going On
Caregiver Training Requirements in Assisted Living Caregiver Training Requirements in Assisted Living
Uber, Lyft, SilverRide, GoGoGrandparent: Update on Senior Ride Sharing Uber, Lyft, SilverRide, GoGoGrandparent: Update on Senior Ride Sharing
How Memory Care Facilities Deal with Aggression How Memory Care Facilities Deal with Aggression

Recent Articles

13 At-Home Activities For Seniors Besides Watching TV 13 At-Home Activities For Seniors Besides Watching TV
5 Ways To Combat Depression In Seniors 5 Ways To Combat Depression In Seniors
7 Ways For Seniors To Boost Their Immune System 7 Ways For Seniors To Boost Their Immune System
The Best Grab Bars Review 2020 The Best Grab Bars Review 2020
The Best Coffee Makers For Eldelry Persons Review 2020 The Best Coffee Makers For Eldelry Persons Review 2020

The material of this web site is provided for informational purposes only. SeniorsMatters.com does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment;or legal, financial or any other professional services advice. Use of this site is subject to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.