Lewy Body Dementia
Lewy body dementia (LBD) affects roughly 1.4 million people and families in the United States. Lewy Body dementia is the second most common type of progressive dementia. The term lewy body dementia refers to two different subtypes of dementia, Parkinson’s disease dementia (PDD) and dementia with lewy body’s (DLB). When Parkinson’s disease symptoms precede cognitive decline, a person is diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease dementia. If cognitive issues occur before or at the same time as motor symptoms, the diagnosis is dementia with Lewy bodies. Over time both manifestations of LBD cause similar symptoms. In both instances, clumps of protein form in the brain called lewy bodies. Lewy body cells prevent the brain from regulating two chemicals, acetylcholine and dopamine. Acetylcholine is involved in memory and the ability to learn. Dopamine affects movement, mood, and sleep patterns. Symptoms include vivid visual hallucinations, fluctuations in cognition, and physical issues such as poor regulation of body function and movement disorder.
Diagnosis of Lewy Body can be difficult. There is no single test to diagnose Lewy Bodies dementia. Doctors must rule out other conditions that could cause similar symptoms. To be diagnosed with LBD a person must experience cognitive decline as well as two of the following:
- Fluctuation in awareness and thinking
- Repeated visual hallucinations
- Parkinsonian symptoms
Other symptoms that can support a diagnosis are:
- Acting out dreams during sleep
- Instability in blood pressure and heart rate, and poor regulation of body temperature
Lewy body dementia affects multiple systems of the body. Treatment should involve multiple specialists collaborating to minimize symptoms while avoiding the exacerbation of other symptoms. In addition to careful medication management, treatment of symptoms may include physical therapy for movement issues and counseling or psychotherapy for mood. Mayo clinic cites that on average, people with Lewy Bodies dementia live for eight years after the condition begins.
There is no known cause for LBD, but several factors are known to increase the risk of developing Lewy Body Dementia. Males have this disease more often than females, as age increases so too does the likelihood of developing this type of dementia. Lastly, people related to someone who has Lewy Body are at higher risk.
Caregiving for a person with Lewy Bodies Dementia can be a burdensome task. For help in finding resources to help a person with Lewy Bodies Dementia, please visit the Lewy Body Dementia Association. For help with care coordination please contact us at Choices in Senior Care.
By Dylan Adams
Dylan has a degree in Communications and serves as the Community Relations Coordinator for Choices in Senior Care. He works to foster relationships with community partners and build collaborations that will benefit seniors and give back to the community.