Understanding Lewy Body Dementias
Lewy body dementias affect an estimated 1.4 million individuals and their families in the United States. At the Lewy Body Dementia Association , we understand that though many families are affected by this disease, few individuals and medical professionals are aware of the symptoms, diagnostic criteria, or even that LBD exists. There are important facts about Lewy body dementias that you should know if you, a loved one, or a patient you are treating may have LBD.
How Is Lbd Different From Parkinsons Or Alzheimers
These diseases are similar in a lot of ways. But there are some key differences in the symptoms that affect people with LBD and when those symptoms happen.
LBD may not cause short-term memory loss like Alzheimerâs. People with both conditions have trouble with thinking, alertness, and paying attention. But in LBD, those problems come and go. The disease can also cause hallucinations, often in the first few years someone has LBD. People with Alzheimerâs usually donât have hallucinations until the later stages.
People with LBD also often act out their dreams and make violent movements when theyâre asleep. Itâs called REM sleep behavior disorder. Sometimes, itâs the first sign that someone has LBD.
LBD and Parkinsonâs disease both cause movement problems, like stiff muscles and tremors. But most people with Parkinsonâs donât have problems with their thinking and memory until the very later stages of their disease. Sometimes, they donât have it at all. In the type of LBD known as Parkinsonâs disease with dementia, these problems begin much sooner.
People with LBD also need different drugs for their condition than the ones that treat Parkinsonâs or Alzheimerâs.
Lewy Body Dementia: The Cognitive Disorder You May Not Know About
Its a sad and widely publicized fact that comedian and actor Robin Williams death cause was suicide, but did you know that a commonly misdiagnosed brain disease called Lewy body dementia is said to be the real underlying cause of his;premature death?
Since Williams 2014 death, his wife has revealed that his;last year of life was plagued by;unexplained mental symptoms like delusions and;anxiety as well as physical symptoms of;muscle rigidity and impaired movement. Unfortunately, doctors didnt realize that Williams was suffering from;Lewy body dementia;or dementia with Lewy bodies until his body was autopsied.
Lewy;body dementia is a complex brain disorder that can be very tricky to diagnose,;treat and manage. LBD is not as well-known as its cousin;conditions,;Alzheimers diseaseand Parkinsons disease, but its not a rare health problem. According to the National Institute on Aging,;over;1 million Americans are affected by;Lewy body dementia and its extremely challenging affects.
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You Struggle With Vocabulary
Word-finding difficulties are a common early sign of dementia. You might have trouble finding the right words during conversations or when naming objects, sometimes substituting the wrong word. People affected in this way pause while speaking, use filler words and frequently rely on it or they instead of specific names for things. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that these word-finding problems increased significantly in the span of just two years for people developing dementia.
Language can, in fact, be affected before memory problems emerge. An Arizona State University study analyzed former U.S. President Ronald Reagans press conferences and found speech changes more than a decade before he was diagnosed with Alzheimers.
To assess whether your word-finding challenges are related to a shrinkage in the language areas of your brain, pay attention to when and how often this happens. It could simply be a result of being tired or stressedand can be caused by anxiety, depression, stroke and delirium, as well.
Hallucinations Or Delusions Of Reality
Unlike Alzheimers disease, individuals in the early stages of Lewy Body Dementia may exhibit cognitive changes such as hallucinations or distortions of reality. In general, hallucinations caused by LBD are vivid and usually visual, rather than auditory. LBD differs from other forms of dementia in that most early-stage cases do not involve memory loss.
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Everything You Need To Know About Lewy Body Dementia
Second only to Alzheimers disease, Lewy body dementia is one of the most common types of progressive dementia. Also referred to as dementia with Lewy bodies, Lewy body dementia occurs when abnormal deposits of protein develop in the brain. Lewy bodies grow in nerve cells in the part of the brain that affects thinking, motor control and memory.
Unlike Alzheimers, which causes severe memory problems, LBD affects the way a person processes information. Additionally, LBD produces physical symptoms like Parkinsons, such as muscle stiffness and tremor. LBD also affects autonomic body functions such as bowel and bladder control, temperature regulation and blood pressure control. It can also cause individuals to act out their dreams and to experience visual hallucinations.
Approximately 1.4 million people in the United States are diagnosed with LBD. That number is probably underestimated, however, since many of its symptoms are like Alzheimers and Parkinsons disease causing many individuals to be misdiagnosed. Although younger individuals may be diagnosed with LBD, it typically begins sometime after the age of 50.
Outlook For Dementia With Lewy Bodies
How quickly dementia with Lewy bodies gets worse varies from person to person.
Home-based help will usually be needed, and some people will eventually need care in a nursing home.
The average survival time after diagnosis is similar to that of Alzheimer’s disease around 6 to 12 years. But this is highly variable and some people live much longer than this.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with dementia, remember that you’re not alone. The NHS and social services, as well as voluntary organisations, can provide advice and support for you and your family.
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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:
Lewy Body Dementia Diagnosis: Next Steps
In the early stages, symptoms will likely be mild, allowing the individual to function fairly normally. Unfortunately, because many of the signs of Lewy body dementia are similar to other conditions or forms of dementia, its often misdiagnosed. This can lead to potentially wrong and harmful medications.;
As LBD advances and cognition and mobility decline, your loved one will likely require more help. While there is currently no cure for dementia, some early symptoms of Lewy body dementia could respond to medication and various therapies. If you receive a Lewy body dementia diagnosis, begin researching care and treatment options.;
A memory care community can provide around-the-clock care, progressive programming, activities and meal plans specifically geared towards unique needs. Moreover, when your loved one lives in memory care, the staff is trained to notice even slight differences in behaviors or symptom progressions, which can help with a precise Lewy body dementia diagnosis.;;
to speak to the expertly-trained staff at our memory care community, Arbor.;
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Lewy Body Dementia Symptoms
It is essential to know the most common and not so common Lewy body dementia symptoms as it can help with treating a person early.
You also need to understand that this type of dementia is, according to statistics, the third most common one. Alzheimers disease/dementia and vascular dementia are the only two more frequent.
Fun fact: Robin Williams had Lewy body dementia , and it is one of the main reasons for suicide.
Someone who is affected by LBD develops problems with thinking, movement, mood, alertness and starts showing signs of depression.
Of course, diagnosing LBD is not as easy as it sounds. There are other brain diseases that also have similar symptoms and are often confused.
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.
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. Is there a fairly typical progression like Alzheimer’s disease where it begins in early stages that are fairly uniform, then moves to middle stages;and then to late stages? In Lewy body dementia, the answer is a bit more complicated.
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How Does Dementia With Lewy Bodies Affect People
The way someone;is affected by DLB will depend partly on where the Lewy bodies are in the brain:
- Lewy bodies at the base of the brain are closely linked to problems with movement. These are the main feature of Parkinsons disease.
- Lewy bodies in the outer layers of the brain are linked to problems with mental abilities, which is a feature of DLB and other types of dementia.
When DLB starts to affect someone, early symptoms may not cause too many difficulties. Gradually though, these get worse and cause problems with everyday living.;
Treatment And Care For Lewy Body Dementia
While LBD currently cannot be prevented or cured, some symptoms may respond to treatment for a period of time. An LBD treatment plan may involve medications, physical and other types of therapy, and counseling. A plan to make any home safety updates and identify any equipment can make everyday tasks easier.
A skilled care team often can suggest ways to improve quality of life for both people with LBD and their caregivers.
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Treatment For Early Lbd Symptoms
Over time, the symptoms of Lewy body dementia become more pronounced or frequent. It is a progressive disease and there is no cure for either dementia with Lewy bodies or Parkinsons disease dementia. However, some of the symptoms may be treatable with medications and complementary therapies, such as pet therapy, music therapy, or art therapy.
Managing the symptoms can help reduce and other feelings that may accompany dementia. It can take some trial and error to find effective medications or therapies, but these treatments may help people with Lewy body dementia maintain their quality of life for longer.
If you are a caregiver for someone with Lewy body dementia, speak with your loved ones healthcare team and support groups for ideas on how to best manage dementia symptoms and cope with the challenges of caregiving.
Where To Get Help For Lewy Body Dementia
We know that a Lewy body dementia diagnosis can feel absolutely devastating and scary.
However, its no reason to give up hope. The earlier you seek the right behavioral care, the better you or your loved ones quality of life will be.
We can help with that.
We work with families, seniors, and senior living communities to provide different kinds of cognitive therapies and mental stimulation designed to combat the progression of memory loss diseases like LBD and Alzheimers. Reach out to us today to learn more about our 1-on-1 cognitive coaching, group sessions, and much more. Were here to support you every step of the way.
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What Is Lewy Body Dementia Which Robbed Robin Williams Of His Sanity
Oscar-winning actor and comedian Robin Williams died in August 2014 of suicide. His death was not due to substance abuse or suicidal tendencies, as some had speculated in the media. Williams wife, Susan, told ABCs Good Morning America this month that her husband slowly lost his mind because of a neurological disease, later discovered in an autopsy to be Lewy body dementia.
She said Williams, who was 63 years old and had been diagnosed with Parkinsons disease, was aware his mind slipping.
Lewy body dementia killed Robin, she said.
The disease is named for Dr. Frederick H. Lewy, the neurologist who discovered the abnormal brain particles in the early 1900s.
Dr. Matthew Barrett, an assistant professor in the University of Virginia Health Systems Department of Neurology, explains the disease and what UVA is doing to learn more about Lewy body dementia.
Q. What is Lewy body dementia?
A. Lewy body dementia;is a progressive;neurological disease with progressive decline in cognitive abilities and distinctive neurological symptoms. It is named for the;Lewy bodies that are found in the brains of people who have the disease. Lewy bodies are microscopic protein accumulations inside neurons. It is the presence of Lewy bodies, along with distinctive symptoms, that distinguish it from the;more common Alzheimers disease.
Q. What are the symptoms?
Q. Is Lewy body dementia commonly known?
Q. How is it diagnosed?
Q. How is it treated?
Q. Is Lewy body dementia fatal?
Problems With Mood And Motivation
Mood disturbances is one of the prominent features of lewy body dementia Many people with LBD struggle with concentration, they may feel apathetic and spend a lot of time staring into space. These symptoms can come and go, so that there may be some periods where the individual is bright and alert, followed by spells of confusion and drowsiness. Depression is also common during the course of the illness.
Reading about some of the symptoms of the disease can be frightening, however the progression of dementia with Lewy bodies varies between people. Getting early support can help make life a little easier. Home-care can adapt to your evolving needs, so that you can continue to live safely in your own home. Your doctor may be able to prescribe medication to reduce hallucinations, help with sleep and ease movement and tremor. You may also find that physiotherapy and occupational therapy can support your function, so that you can get on with everyday tasks and maintain your wellbeing and independence for as long as possible.
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Rugby Union: Thompson Wants Dementia Action
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Sometimes, in the early stages of dementia with Lewy bodies, symptoms can mimic another condition. The progressive decline in mental cognition can first begin to show in physical ways. Resembling the signs of Parkinson’s, Lewy body dementia can lead to a hand tremor an involuntary quivering movement of the hand. Uncontrollable shaking may also be present with a “shuffling walk”, said the Mayo Clinic.
Caring For Someone With Lewy Body Dementia
Caring for someone with LBD, or any form of dementia, is hugely challenging. Just as LBD can impact every aspect of a person, caring for someone with the disease can impact every aspect of your daily life. Youll likely face tests of stamina, problem solving, and resiliency. However, your caregiving journey can also be an intensely rewarding experience as long as you take care of yourself and get the support that you need.
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Lbd Pharmacologic Treatment Options
No pharmacologic treatments have been approved to treat Lewy body dementia in the United States. However, the following medications are used off-label to treat LBD symptoms.
*Donepezil has been approved to treat LBD in Japan and the Philippines, and rivastigmine has been approved to treat Parkinsons disease dementia in the United States and Europe.
No medications have been approved to manage LBD behavioral symptoms, and many common psychotropic medications can have deleterious side effects in patients with LBD. In general, all classic neuroleptic medications, such as haloperidol, should be avoided. When possible, nonpharmacologic approaches should be attempted to alleviate these symptoms. If necessary, careful use of atypical antipsychotic medications can be tried but require close monitoring. Attention to physical ailments such as constipation and pain should be the first priority because they can trigger behavioral changes. Mood symptoms are common in patients with LBD. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, which help increase the amount of serotonin in the brain, appear to reduce irritability, agitation, and depression. RBD frequently is treated with melatonin or clonazepam.
Why Is Lewy Body Dementia So Bad
Lewy bodies are clumps of protein that can form in the brain. When they build up, they can cause problems with the way your brain works, including your memory, movement, thinking skills, mood, and behavior. These problems can keep you from doing everyday tasks or taking care of yourself, a condition called dementia.
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How Lewy Body Dementia Differs From Other Types Of Dementia
Dementia is a term that describes the gradual loss of the ability to think, reason or remember. The most common form of dementia in the U.S. is associated with Alzheimers disease, but can also be caused by Lewy body dementia, frontotemporal dementia, and , among others. Although they all have dementia in common, the symptoms of these diseases differ because they affect different parts of the brain.
Lewy body dementia affects many parts of the brain, starting with the outer layer of the brain, called the gray matter or cerebral cortex. The cerebral cortex is responsible for language, thinking, perception and judgment. This is why some of the earlier symptoms of Lewy body dementia include changes in visual perception, delusions or , difficulty paying attention, and misidentifying objects.
As other parts of the brain become affected, more symptoms appear, such as difficulty forming new memories, changes in behavior, difficulty sleeping or excessive sleepiness, and difficulty moving and maintaining balance. ;
Although overall Lewy body dementia symptoms are similar to other types of dementia like Alzheimers disease or frontotemporal dementia, there are some key differences. For example, early symptoms of Alzheimers disease are or getting lost in familiar places. The earliest symptoms among people with frontotemporal dementia tend to be changes in personality or the inability to bring out the correct words.