How Is Lewy Body Dementia Treated
- Acetyl cholinesterase inhibitors: These work by increasing the levels of a chemical called acetylcholine in the brain, which improve the ability of the brain cells to send signals to each other
Treatments For Dementia With Lewy Bodies
There’s currently no cure for dementia with Lewy bodies or any treatment that will slow it down.
But there are treatments that can help control some of the symptoms, possibly for several years.
- medicines to reduce hallucinations, confusion, drowsiness, movement problems and disturbed sleep
- therapies such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech and language therapy for problems with movement, everyday tasks, and communication
- psychological therapies, such as cognitive stimulation
- dementia activities, such as memory cafes
What Complications Are Associated With Medications Used To Treat Lewy Body Dementia
Up to 50% of people living with Lewy body dementia can have severe side effects when treated with certain antipsychotic medications. These are known as the typical or traditional antipsychotics and include such drugs as thoridazine, haloperidol, chlorpromazine and perphenazine. This class of older, first-generation antipsychotics can cause sedation and make cognitive symptoms and movement problems worse. A life-threatening reaction to an antipsychotic medication, called neuroleptic malignant syndrome, is possible. Symptoms include rigid muscles, changing blood pressure, high fever, confusion and fast heart rate. Contact your healthcare provider immediately if you or your loved are taking an antipsychotic and develop these symptoms.
Visual hallucinations and behavioral changes may be treated with the newer, atypical antipsychotic medications pimavanserin , quetiapine or clozapine . However, because all antipsychotic medications both older, typical medications and newer atypical medications can increase the risk of death in elderly patients with dementia, you and your healthcare provider should carefully discuss the risks and benefits and using these medications.
Other medications, like antidepressants or sedative antihistamines, may increase confusion in people with LBD.
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Parkinsons Alzheimers And Lewy Body Dementia
Since Lewy body dementia is commonly misdiagnosed for both Parkinsons and Alzheimers, it is helpful to understand how these diseases overlap.
|Overlapping symptoms of Parkinsons, Alzheimers, and Lewy body dementia|
|Parkinsons and Lewy body dementia||Alzheimers and Lewy body dementia|
|Some of the motor symptoms found in bothParkinsons and Lewy body patients include:
||Some of the cognitive symptoms found in bothAlzheimers and Lewy bodys patients include:
Does The Type Of Dementia Affect Life Expectancy
The type of dementia a person has can also affect how long they live with dementia. These figures for the number of years a person may live after a diagnosis are just averages and some people live longer than this.
This information may be upsetting to read and think about but it is very important to remember that, with the right support, people with dementia can live well at all stages.
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Symptoms In The Later Stages Of Dementia With Lewy Bodies
DLB generally progresses over a period of several years. In the later stages of the disease, the person may:
- start to have more problems with their day-to-day memory
- become much more easily upset or distressed, resulting in agitation, restlessness, or shouting out
- walk more slowly and less steadily, causing a higher risk of falling and serious injury
- have speech and swallowing problems that may lead to chest infections or a risk of choking
- have problems with eating and drinking chewing and swallowing may become more difficult, and the persons stomach and gut may not move food around the body properly, leading to a loss of appetite as well as nausea and discomfort.
Treatment and support for dementia with Lewy bodies
There is currently no cure for DLB, but there are both drug and non-drug treatments that can support the person to live well.
What Causes Dementia With Lewy Bodies
Dementia with Lewy bodies is caused by deposits of an abnormal protein called Lewy bodies inside brain cells. These deposits, which are also found in people with Parkinsons disease, build up in areas of the brain responsible for things such as memory and muscle movement.
It’s not clear why the deposits develop and how exactly they damage the brain, but it’s thought they disrupt the brain’s normal functions by interfering with chemical signals transmitted from one brain cell to another.
Dementia with Lewy bodies usually occurs in people with no family history of the condition, although there have been reports of rare cases that seem to run in families.
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Certain Speech Changes May Be Early Sign Of Mental Decline
Your speech may, um, help reveal if youre uh developing thinking problems. More pauses, filler words and other verbal changes might be an early sign of mental decline, which can lead to Alzheimers disease, a study suggests.
Researchers had people describe a picture they were shown in taped sessions two years apart. Those with early-stage mild cognitive impairment slid much faster on certain verbal skills than those who didnt develop thinking problems.
What weve discovered here is there are aspects of language that are affected earlier than we thought, before or at the same time that memory problems emerge, said one study leader, Sterling Johnson of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
This was the largest study ever done of speech analysis for this purpose, and if more testing confirms its value, it might offer a simple, cheap way to help screen people for very early signs of mental decline.
But dont panic lots of people say um and have trouble quickly recalling names as they age. It doesnt necessarily mean trouble is on the way.
In normal aging, its something that may come back to you later and its not going to disrupt the whole conversation, another study leader, Kimberly Mueller, explained. The difference here is, it is more frequent in a short period, interferes with communication and gets worse over time.
The study was discussed Monday at the Alzheimers Association International Conference in London.
Coping With A Diagnosis
Being diagnosed with dementia can be an overwhelming experience. While there is no cure at present for LBD, or any medications aimed at specifically treating LBD, doctors are able to treat many of its symptoms. There are also a number of self-help strategies that can help improve symptoms.
If youve been diagnosed with LBD, its normal to feel many strong and painful emotions, including anger, fear, and uncertainty about the future.
Take time to adjust. As with any major life change, its important to give yourself time to adjust. Expect ups and downs as you do. You may feel that youve come to terms with your new situation for a while, and then suddenly feel overwhelmed by stress again.
Reach out for support. Living with Lewy body dementia is not easy, but there is help for this journey. The more support you have from family and friends, the better youll be able to cope with symptoms.
Talk to your loved ones about your wishes. Its never easy to talk about how you want your healthcare handled when youre unable to make decisions for yourself. But its important to let your loved one know what is important to you. Thinking about your choices today can improve your quality of life in the future and ease the burden on your family.
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Get professional help from BetterHelps network of licensed therapists.
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Treatment For People With Dementia
The goal of treatment is to maintain quality of life of the person with dementia for as long as possible.
Certain medicines can slow down dementia, but they do not make it go away. Treatment for memory and other thinking skills can help. This is true early on, and it also may help as the dementia gets worse.
An SLP can help a person with dementia stay as independent as possible. The SLP may work on attention, memory, problem solving, and higher-level thinking skills. Some strategies that the SLP may teach a person with dementia include
- practicing learning important information
- using written words or pictures to help carry out tasks
- making “memory books” to help remember personal information and
- training family members and caregivers on how to communicate better with the person with dementia.
The SLP also can work with a person with dementia to make sure they can eat safely. This may include eating different types of foods or eating in different ways. Family members and caregivers can support the person with dementia to make sure they eat enough.
See ASHA information for professionals on the Practice Portal’s Dementia page.
Stages And Progression Of Lewy Body Dementia
Claudia Chaves, MD, is board-certified in cerebrovascular disease and neurology with a subspecialty certification in vascular neurology. She is an associate professor of neurology at Tufts Medical School and medical director of the Lahey Clinic Multiple Sclerosis Center in Lexington, Massachusetts.
If you or someone you know has recently been diagnosed with Lewy body dementia , you might be wondering what to expect as the disease progresses.
Like with Alzheimer’s disease, Lewy body dementia is marked by early, middle, and later stages. It’s what happens during these stages that makes the two different.
This article explains the stages and progression of Lewy body dementia as it proceeds through three stages.
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Understanding Lewy Body Dementia
Lewy body dementia symptoms are so similar to those of other forms of dementia that LBD can be misdiagnosed. This might make more sense when you consider that there are many types of dementia.
It may help to think of dementia as one large “umbrella” that slowly robs people of their ability to think, talk, remember, and use their bodies. Many diseases crowd underneath this umbrella, including:
- Alzheimers disease
- Struggle with incontinence
With dementia with Lewy bodies, cognitive changes may appear earlier than, about the same time, or shortly after any physical changes surface.
What Is Stage 5 Of Alzheimers Disease
On the CDR scale, stage 5 is considered late stage, severe dementia. People at this stage, particularly those stricken with Alzheimers disease, will have severe memory loss along with reasoning difficulties. They will no longer be able to speak or communicate coherently and may exhibit some really strange behavior.
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What Is Lewy Body Dementia
Lewy body dementia is the second-most common form of dementia, and it is frequently misdiagnosed as Parkinsons disease or Alzheimers disease until the more advanced symptoms appear. Its caused by the accumulation of abnormal protein formations throughout the cerebral cortex, which causes brain cells to work improperly or be destroyed.
Check out this 4-minute video explaining LBD and why its so often misdiagnosed.
The Lewy Body Dementia Association provides an extensive list of symptoms, which include:
- Fluctuations in alertness, attention, and concentration.
- Hallucinations, delusions, depression, anxiety, and apathy.
- Sleep disorders.
- Impaired autonomic functions like temperature, blood pressure, and constipation.
- Motor impairment, including slowness, rigidity, shuffling gait, and tremor.
What Is Lewy Body Dementia Causes Symptoms And Treatments
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Lewy body dementia is a disease associated with abnormal deposits of a protein called alpha-synuclein in the brain. These deposits, called Lewy bodies, affect chemicals in the brain whose changes, in turn, can lead to problems with thinking, movement, behavior, and mood. Lewy body dementia is one of the most common causes of dementia.
LBD affects more than 1 million individuals in the United States. People typically show symptoms at age 50 or older, although sometimes younger people have LBD. LBD appears to affect slightly more men than women.
Diagnosing LBD can be challenging. Early LBD symptoms are often confused with similar symptoms found in other brain diseases or in psychiatric disorders. Lewy body dementia can occur alone or along with other brain disorders.
It is a progressive disease, meaning symptoms start slowly and worsen over time. The disease lasts an average of five to eight years from the time of diagnosis to death, but can range from two to 20 years for some people. How quickly symptoms develop and change varies greatly from person to person, depending on overall health, age, and severity of symptoms.
In the early stages of LBD, symptoms can be mild, and people can function fairly normally. As the disease advances, people with LBD require more help due to a decline in thinking and movement abilities. In the later stages of the disease, they often depend entirely on others for assistance and care.
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Stage Seven: Very Severe Cognitive Decline
Stage seven typically lasts for 1.5 to 2.5 years and is characterized by very severe cognitive decline. Patients in stage seven lose their ability to communicate, and are often unable to walk. Individuals in late stage dementia require extensive assistance with lifes activities, and often need round the clock support.
Dementia affects approximately 5 million Americans each year. Lewy Body Dementia comprises approximately 1.4 million cases within this figure, and is often misdiagnosed. If youd like to learn more about Lewy Body Dementia or seek support, please visit us online at lewybodyresourcecenter.org or reach out to our helpline at 833-LBDLINE.
Tests For Dementia With Lewy Bodies
There’s no single test for dementia with Lewy bodies.
The following may be needed to make a diagnosis:
- an assessment of symptoms for example, whether there are typical symptoms of dementia with Lewy bodies
- an assessment of mental abilities this will usually involve a number of tasks and questions
- blood tests to rule out conditions with similar symptoms
- brain scans, such as an MRI scan, CT scan or a SPECT scan these can detect signs of dementia or other problems with the brain
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Causes Of Dementia With Lewy Bodies
Dementia with Lewy bodies is caused by clumps of protein forming inside brain cells. These abnormal deposits are called Lewy bodies.
These deposits are also found in people with Parkinson’s disease, and they build up in areas of the brain responsible for functions such as thinking, visual perception and muscle movement.
It’s not clear why the deposits develop and how exactly they damage the brain. It’s thought that part of the problem is the proteins affecting the brain’s normal functions by interfering with signals sent between brain cells.
Dementia with Lewy bodies usually occurs in people with no family history of the condition, although there have been very rare cases that seem to run in families.
Alzheimers Disease Causes Stages And Symptoms
Alzheimers disease is a common cause of dementia. Symptoms and warning signs of Alzheimers disease include memory loss, difficulty performing familiar tasks, disorientation to time and place, misplacing things, and more. The biggest risk factor for Alzheimers disease is increased age. Treatment for Alzheimers is often targeted toward decreasing the symptoms and progression of the disease.
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Frontal Variant Ftd / Behavioral Variant Ftd
Frontal variant FTD is behaviorally distinctive from PFNA and SD . In FvFTD, cortical atrophy affects inferior, anterior regions of the frontal lobe . Unlike PNFA and SD, individuals with FvFTD exhibit early changes in personality, organization, and attention . Core diagnostic criteria identified for FvFTD include a gradual decline in social conduct , with loss of insight and early emotional blunting . Supportive diagnostic features include a decline in personal hygiene, increased rigidity, hyperorality, diet changes, and the emergence of utilization behavior .
Of the three primary FTD subtypes, FvFTD is perhaps the least likely to be referred for a speech-language clinical evaluation because social, behavioral, and emotional deficits predominate. Although it is true that aphasia is not a frank symptom of FvFTD, this disease variant does compromise language abilities. FvFTD produces impairments in executive functioning that are characterized by diminished attentional vigilance, poor inhibitory control , poor sequencing ability, and limitations in working memory . In the production of narrative discourse, the net effect of these deficits is reduced thematic cohesion and disjointed event organization .
Is Slurred Speech A Serious Health Condition
To understand this health condition, we must first look at what causes slurred speech. Slurred speech is when there is a disconnect between the motor functions of the brain and the mouth.
This can be caused by temporary exhaustion or alcohol intoxication, but also could be attributed to a stroke or something more severe.
If your slurred speech lasts for more than just a temporary amount of time you should see a medical professional as soon as you can.
The psychological aspects of slurred speech can cause depression, social isolation, and difficulty working or going to school. Most people will experience mild cases of slurred speech in their lifetime.
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Lewy Bodies And Parkinsons Disease
A person with Parkinsons disease may develop dementia and have problems with reasoning and thinking. Lewy bodies are a feature of several brain disorders, including Parkinsons disease and Alzheimers disease, and they may cause rigid muscles and problems with movement and posture.
Research suggests that the similarity of the symptoms of Parkinsons disease and Lewy body dementia may be indicative of a shared link to how the brain processes alpha-synuclein.
It is not possible to test for the presence of Lewy bodies, so researchers must try to determine their effects by carrying out postmortem studies.
There is currently no cure for dementia. However, medication can alleviate the symptoms, while a team of medical professionals and therapists may help a person develop strategies to manage their daily activities.