Lewy Body Dementia Research
Many avenues of research are being explored to improve our understanding of LBD. Some researchers are working to identify the specific differences in the brain between the two types of LBD. Others are looking at the disease’s underlying biology, genetics, and environmental risk factors. Still other scientists are trying to identify biomarkers , improve screening tests to aid diagnosis, and research new treatments.
Scientists hope that new knowledge about LBD will one day lead to more effective treatments and even ways to cure and prevent the disorder. Until then, researchers need volunteers with and without LBD for clinical studies.
NIH and other groups help people learn about clinical trials and studies and find research opportunities near them. Visit the following websites for details:
What Causes Younger Onset Dementia
Many different types of dementia can affect younger people. Each type has its own symptoms and is caused by a specific type of change in the brain. Some causes of early onset dementia are:
- Alzheimers disease
- problems with blood flow to the brain
- deterioration to the front part of the brain
- chronic overuse of alcohol over many years
Confusion About Location And Time
The person may experience confusion about places or times. They could have difficulty keeping track of seasons, months, or times of day.
They may become confused in an unfamiliar place. As Alzheimers disease progresses, they could feel confused in familiar places or question how they got there. They may also start to wander and get lost.
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Medicare Coverage By Part
- any age and have a disability
- any age and have end stage renal disease
However, there are also some specific Medicare plans that people with dementia may be eligible for. In these cases, a diagnosis of dementia may be required:
- Special needs plans :SNPs are a special group of Advantage plans that specifically address the needs of people with specific health conditions, including dementia. Coordination of care is also often included.
- Chronic care management services : If you have dementia and at least one more chronic condition, you may be eligible for CCMR. CCMR includes development of a care plan, coordination of care and medications, and 24/7 access to a qualified healthcare professional for health needs.
Dementia happens when you lose cognitive abilities like memory, thinking, and decision-making. This can significantly impact social function and activities of daily living. For example, a person with dementia may have difficulty:
- recalling people, old memories, or directions
- carrying out daily tasks independently
- communicating or finding the right words
- solving problems
- paying attention
- controlling their emotions
There isnt just one type of dementia. There are actually several types, each with different characteristics. They include:
Are There Different Types Of Dementia
Dementias can be divided into three groups:
- Primary .
- Secondary .
- Reversible dementia-like symptoms caused by other illnesses or causes.
Types of primary dementia include:
Dementia due to other diseases and conditions
Other causes of dementia include:
Dementias due to reversible causes
Some conditions can cause dementia-like symptoms that can be reversed with treatment, including:
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Signs Of Mild Alzheimers Disease
In mild Alzheimers disease, a person may seem to be healthy but has more and more trouble making sense of the world around him or her. The realization that something is wrong often comes gradually to the person and his or her family. Problems can include:
- Memory loss
- Poor judgment leading to bad decisions
- Loss of spontaneity and sense of initiative
- Taking longer to complete normal daily tasks
- Repeating questions
- Increased sleeping
- Loss of bowel and bladder control
A common cause of death for people with Alzheimers disease is aspiration pneumonia. This type of pneumonia develops when a person cannot swallow properly and takes food or liquids into the lungs instead of air.
There is currently no cure for Alzheimers, though there are medicines that can treat the symptoms of the disease.
How Hard Is It To Get Help
Because it is relatively rare for younger people to be diagnosed with dementia, services and interventions tend to be geared towards people aged 65 years and over. This means that often it is very difficult for younger people and their families to access support, especially at the beginning.
For example, people with dementia are usually seen by an old age psychiatrist, but if the person is under 65, it may not be clear which specialist they should see. Will the local old age psychiatrist be willing to see the person or should it be the neurologist? Accessing services can also be complicated. Which social services team will be responsible for ongoing care management one that deals with mental health among working age adults or one that works with older people with dementia? Can a younger person with dementia attend a day facility for older people? Many younger people with dementia and their families experience great frustration as they work through these bureaucratic hurdles.
Activities too in a range of settings are often planned with much older and more physically frail people in mind. An activity that is suitable for a 90-year-old woman with limited mobility say, a discussion group may be completely inappropriate for an active 50-year-old man with fronto-temporal dementia who wants to walk all day, every day.
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Coping With Cognitive Changes
Some medications used to treat Alzheimer’s disease also may be used to treat the cognitive symptoms of LBD. These drugs, called cholinesterase inhibitors, act on a chemical in the brain that is important for memory and thinking. They may also improve hallucinations, apathy, and delusions. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved one Alzheimer’s drug, rivastigmine, to treat cognitive symptoms in Parkinson’s disease dementia. Several other drugs are being tested as possible treatments for LBD symptoms or to disrupt the underlying disease process.
Prevalence By Age In The Uk
The biggest risk factor for dementia is age the older you are the more likely you are to develop the condition, but it is not an inevitable part of ageing. About two in 100 people aged between 65 to 69 have dementia, and this figure rises to one in five for those aged between 85 to 89.
Page last reviewed: 05/07/2018
It is a common misconception that dementia is a condition of older age, over 42,000 people under 65 years old have dementia in the UK.
Prevalence by age groups
The estimated percentage of people living with dementia at different age groups is shown below. This shows the effect of age on your risk of developing dementia, and also how many more women there are living with dementia at older ages.
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What Happens After A Diagnosis Of Younger Onset Dementia
A diagnosis of younger onset dementia can come as a shock. The person affected, and their family and friends may all feel angry or sad. They might not believe it. There can be a huge sense of loss. These feelings are normal.
But help and support is available, and it is better to get it earlier than later.
Younger people with dementia need to think about several issues.
Common Early Symptoms Of Dementia
Different types of dementia can affect people differently, and everyone will experience symptoms in their own way.
However, there are some common early symptoms that may appear some time before a diagnosis of dementia. These include:
- memory loss
- difficulty concentrating
- finding it hard to carry out familiar daily tasks, such as getting confused over the correct change when shopping
- struggling to follow a conversation or find the right word
- being confused about time and place
- mood changes
These symptoms are often mild and may get worse only very gradually. It’s often termed “mild cognitive impairment” as the symptoms are not severe enough to be diagnosed as dementia.
You might not notice these symptoms if you have them, and family and friends may not notice or take them seriously for some time. In some people, these symptoms will remain the same and not worsen. But some people with MCI will go on to develop dementia.
Dementia is not a natural part of ageing. This is why it’s important to talk to a GP sooner rather than later if you’re worried about memory problems or other symptoms.
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What Increases The Risk For Dementia
- AgeThe strongest known risk factor for dementia is increasing age, with most cases affecting those of 65 years and older
- Family historyThose who have parents or siblings with dementia are more likely to develop dementia themselves.
- Race/ethnicityOlder African Americans are twice more likely to have dementia than whites. Hispanics 1.5 times more likely to have dementia than whites.
- Poor heart healthHigh blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking increase the risk of dementia if not treated properly.
- Traumatic brain injuryHead injuries can increase the risk of dementia, especially if they are severe or occur repeatedly.
What Happens To A Persons Brain And Body As Dementia Gets Worse
Unfortunately, many types of dementia are conditions that worsen over time. When your brain doesnt get the nutrients and oxygen it needs, or junk blocks needed communication between the nerve cells of the brain, your brain tissue begins to die.
Alzheimers disease and other types of dementia usually begin with memory loss or lapses in judgment things that can be lived with for a while. As you lose more and more brain function, functions vital to life begin to be affected. Vital functions include breathing, digestion, heart rate and sleep.
In the late stages of dementia, people cant perform the tasks needed to keep their bodies alive. Brain damage and muscle weakness no longer allow even simple, needed movements. You cant communicate, walk, talk, control your bladder or bowels, feed yourself, or chew or swallow food without help.
When you cant care for yourself, move about, eat or drink enough to keep yourself hydrated and nourished, plus have mental decline, you leave yourself vulnerable to other illnesses. Pneumonia is one of these commonly seen illnesses in people with dementia. With a now frail body, a person may not be able to fight infections or even benefit from medication. The persons pain and discomfort may outweigh treatment options that can only offer a short-term benefit.
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Struggling To Adapt To Change
For someone in the early stages of dementia, the experience can cause fear. Suddenly, they cant remember people they know or follow what others are saying. They cant remember why they went to the store, and they get lost on the way home.
Because of this, they might crave routine and be afraid to try new experiences. Difficulty adapting to change is also a typical symptom of early dementia.
What Medications Are Available To Manage Dementia
Drugs approved for the most common form of dementia, Alzheimers disease, include:
- Cholinesterase inhibitors, including donepezil , rivastigmine and galantamine .
- NMDA receptor antagonist memantine .
- Anti-amyloid antibody aducanumab .
Healthcare providers use these drugs to treat people with some of the other forms of dementia.
Cholinesterase inhibitors and the NMDA receptor antagonist affect different chemical processes in your brain. Both drug classes have been shown to provide some benefit in improving or stabilizing memory function in some people with dementia.
Cholinesterase inhibitors manage the chemicals in your brain that allow messages to be sent between brain cells, which is needed for proper brain function. Memantine works similarly to cholinesterase inhibitors except it works on a different chemical messenger and helps the nerve cells survive longer.
Aducanumab targets amyloid proteins, which build up into the plaques seen in the brains of people with Alzheimers disease.
Although none of these drugs appear to stop the progression of the underlying disease, they may slow it down.
If other medical conditions are causing dementia or co-exist with dementia, healthcare providers prescribe the appropriate drugs used to treat those specific conditions. These other conditions include sleeping problems, depression, hallucinations and agitation.
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Care For The Caregiver
Its easy to get lost in caregiving, to the detriment of your own health and well-being. But you cant do your best for someone else if you dont take care of yourself.
Try to follow these self-care tips:
- Ask for help. Reach out to family, friends, neighbors, or in-home healthcare professionals.
- Take time off to do something for yourself. Socialize with your friends, schedule a massage, or plop on the sofa and stream a movie. Me time matters.
- Get regular exercise, even if its just a walk around the neighborhood.
- Maintain a balanced diet so your own health doesnt get derailed.
- Take periodic time out for deep breathing and quiet meditation or soothing music.
- Contact your own doctor when you start to feel out of whack.
Caregiver burnout is all too real. It doesnt mean youve failed, it only means youre stretching yourself too thin. You might find it helpful to join a caregiver support group so you can interact with people who get it. If you start to feel emotionally or physically drained, consider speaking with a therapist.
What Are The Signs Of Alzheimer’s Disease
Scientists continue to unravel the complex brain changes involved in the onset and progression of Alzheimers disease. It seems likely that damage to the brain starts a decade or more before memory and other cognitive problems appear. During this preclinical stage of Alzheimers disease, people seem to be symptom-free, but toxic changes are taking place in the brain.
Damage occurring in the brain of someone with Alzheimers disease begins to show itself in very early clinical signs and symptoms. For most people with Alzheimersthose who have the late-onset varietysymptoms first appear in their mid-60s. Signs of early-onset Alzheimers begin between a persons 30s and mid-60s.
The first symptoms of Alzheimers vary from person to person. Memory problems are typically one of the first signs of cognitive impairment related to Alzheimers disease. Decline in non-memory aspects of cognition, such as word-finding, vision/spatial issues, and impaired reasoning or judgment, may also signal the very early stages of Alzheimers disease. And some people may be diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment. As the disease progresses, people experience greater memory loss and other cognitive difficulties.
Alzheimers disease progresses in several stages: preclinical, mild , moderate, and severe .
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Dementia With Young Onset
Most studies on prevalence of dementia focus on subjects aged over 65 years. Although age is well established as its most important risk factor, dementia may also affect people under the age of 65. Few data exist on the prevalence of dementia in younger people. A recent study in the UK was designed to determine the prevalence of dementia in people under the age of 65 in a large catchment area and use these figures to estimate the number of younger people affected by dementia in the UK. The prevalence of dementia in those aged 3064 was 54 per 100 000. For those aged 4564, the prevalence was 98 per 100 000. Like the studies mentioned above describing prevalence over the age of 65, there was a strong age dependency: from the age of 35 years onwards, the prevalence of dementia approximately doubled with every five year increase in age. In contrast with studies describing populations over 65, males seem at a higher risk to become demented before they reach the age of 65 than females.
Causes of dementia with young onset . Based on Harvey et al.
Is Dementia Treatable
First, its important to understand the terms treatable, reversible and curable. All or almost all forms of dementia are treatable, in that medication and other measures can help manage your symptoms. However, most types of dementia cant be cured or reversed, and treatments provide only modest benefits.
Fortunately, some types of dementia, like those brought on by treatable causes, may be successfully reversed. These dementia-like symptoms are caused by:
- Side effects of medications, illicit drugs or alcohol.
- Tumors that can be removed.
- Subdural hematoma .
- Normal pressure hydrocephalus .
- Metabolic disorders, such as a vitamin B12 deficiency.
- Hypothyroidism, a condition that results from low levels of thyroid hormones.
- Hypoglycemia .
Dementias that arent reversible may still partially respond to medications that treat memory loss or behavior problems. These dementias include:
- Alzheimer’s disease.
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Stage : Mild Dementia
At this stage, individuals may start to become socially withdrawn and show changes in personality and mood. Denial of symptoms as a defense mechanism is commonly seen in stage 4. Behaviors to look for include:
- Difficulty remembering things about one’s personal history
- Difficulty recognizing faces and people
In stage 4 dementia, individuals have no trouble recognizing familiar faces or traveling to familiar locations. However, patients in this stage will often avoid challenging situations in order to hide symptoms or prevent stress or anxiety.
When Dementia Strikes At An Early Age
Dementia in a person in their 30s, 40s or 50s poses special challenges, starting with getting a diagnosis.
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Many people arent overly concerned when an octogenarian occasionally forgets the best route to a favorite store, cant remember a friends name or dents the car while trying to parallel park on a crowded city street. Even healthy brains work less efficiently with age, and memory, sensory perceptions and physical abilities become less reliable.
But what if the person is not in their 80s but in their 30s, 40s or 50s and forgets the way home from their own street corner? Thats far more concerning. While most of the 5.3 million Americans who are living with Alzheimers disease or other forms of dementia are over 65, some 200,000 are younger than 65 and develop serious memory and thinking problems far earlier in life than expected.
Young-onset dementia is a particularly disheartening diagnosis because it affects individuals in the prime years, Dr. David S. Knopman, a neurologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., wrote in a . Many of the afflicted are in their 40s and 50s, midcareer, hardly ready to retire and perhaps still raising a family.
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