Risk Factors For Lewy Body Dementia
There are only a few risk factors associated with Lewy body dementia including:
- Age people over the age of 60 are at higher risk of developing Lewy body dementia.
- Gender men are more likely to develop Lewy body dementia.
- Family history if you have a family history of Lewy body dementia, you are more likely to develop the condition as well.
- Depression early research studies show a link between depression and Lewy body dementia
Is It Lbd Or Something Else
Sometimes early dementia symptoms can be vague, making the type of dementia hard to identify. It may take several years for enough symptoms to develop to point to a specific type of dementia. By learning about common forms of dementia, you can help your physician most quickly identify what type of dementia has developed.
- Some types of dementia are reversible. They may be caused by an interaction of certain medications, a vitamin deficiency or a curable illness. If you are experiencing changes in your memory or cognitive abilities, please consult with a doctor to identify the cause and begin treatment immediately.
- For many types of dementia, there are no known cures. These types of dementia mainly affect older adults, though some people are diagnosed with early-onset dementia as young as their forties. Getting an early and accurate diagnosis along with appropriate treatment is very important since people with LBD often respond very differently to certain medications.
Tips For People Living With Lewy Body Dementia
Coping with a diagnosis of Lewy body dementia and all that follows can be challenging. Getting support from family, friends, and professionals is critical to ensuring the best possible quality of life. Creating a safe environment and preparing for the future are important, too. Take time to focus on your strengths, enjoy each day, and make the most of your time with family and friends. Here are some ways to live with LBD day to day.
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Managing Sleep Disorders In Lewy Body Dementia
Sleep problems may increase confusion and behavioral problems in people with LBD and add to a caregiver’s burden. A physician can order a sleep study to identify any underlying sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, and REM sleep behavior disorder.
REM sleep behavior disorder, a common LBD symptom, involves acting out one’s dreams, leading to lost sleep and even injuries to individuals and their sleep partners. Clonazepam, a drug used to control seizures and relieve panic attacks, is often effective for the disorder at very low dosages. However, it can have side effects such as dizziness, unsteadiness, and problems with thinking. Melatonin, a naturally occurring hormone used to treat insomnia, may also offer some benefit when taken alone or with clonazepam.
Excessive daytime sleepiness is also common in LBD. If it is severe, a sleep specialist may prescribe a stimulant to help the person stay awake during the day.
Some people with LBD have difficulty falling asleep. If trouble sleeping at night persists, a physician may recommend a prescription medication. It is important to note that treating insomnia and other sleep problems in people with LBD has not been extensively studied, and that treatments may worsen daytime sleepiness and should be used with caution. Sleep problems can also be addressed by avoiding lengthy naps, increasing daytime exercise, and avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and chocolate late in the day.
Every Yard Gained Matters
Nearly eight years after the diagnosis that catalyzed Schneider Williams research journey, she is just now starting to really pick up the pieces of my own life, she says.
I kind of need to go underground for a while and relocate my inspiration and my true passion, which is art and painting, Schneider Williams says. She plans for a portion of all her future print sales to go to LBD research, and she will stay in touch with efforts related to the documentaries and the Lewy Body Dementia Fund, where she remains lead chair.
As Schneider Williams widens her focus while leaving her door open for LBD advocacy, experts continue their research efforts.
Were always learning more and more about the disease, from the basic science studies looking at cells and test tubes, to animal models, to human observational studies, says Dr. James Galvin, a professor of neurology and director of the Comprehensive Center for Brain Health at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
Recent highlights include the introduction of at least two new diagnostics, Galvin said: a spinal fluid test from the company Amprion and a skin biopsy test from CND Life Sciences. The spinal fluid test tracks misfolded synuclein and helps doctors diagnose brain diseases, including LBD. The skin biopsy test aims to help doctors distinguish between serious neurologic disorders.
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Can Imaging Tests Diagnose Lewy Body Dementia
Imaging tests, such as computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging , are done to rule out other causes of dementia such as brain tumors, brain bleeds, stroke, hydrocephalus or other structural causes. Imaging studies for Lewy body dementia are usually normal. The only way to make an absolute diagnosis of LBD is by examining the brain at autopsy.
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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Is Lewy Body Dementia An Inherited Condition
One of the more recent discoveries toward identifying a cause of Lewy body dementia is the finding of an increasing number of gene mutations. Two genetic risk factors recently discovered are variants in the APOE and GBA genes. APOE is already known to increase the risk of developing Alzheimers disease. There is growing evidence that it also increases the risk for dementia with lewy bodies. Similarly, the GBA gene increases the risk for both Parkinsons disease and dementia with lewy bodies. Despite these findings, genetic changes as a cause of LBD are still considered rare by scientists. Most cases of Lewy body dementia are not thought to be inherited.
Genetic testing for routine screening for LBD is not currently recommended. Discuss the pros and cons of testing with your healthcare providers if you have a family history of multiple members with Parkinsons disease and/or dementia with lewy bodies.
What Is Lewy Body Disease
Lewy body disease is caused by the degeneration and death of nerve cells in the brain. The name comes from the presence of abnormal spherical structures, called Lewy bodies, which develop inside nerve cells. It is thought that these may contribute to the death of the brain cells. They are named after the doctor who first wrote about them. It is sometimes referred to as Diffuse Lewy body disease.
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How Is Lewy Body Disease Diagnosed
This type of dementia is diagnosed by taking a careful history of the pattern of symptoms, and by excluding other possible causes such as Vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. A brain scan may reveal brain degeneration, but the Lewy bodies can only be identified by examination of brain tissue after death.
Lewy body disease is similar to Alzheimer’s disease in many ways, and in the past it has sometimes been difficult to distinguish the two. It has only recently been accepted as a disease in its own right. It can occur by itself or together with Alzheimer’s disease and/or Vascular dementia. It may be hard to distinguish Lewy body disease from Parkinson’s disease, and some people with Parkinson’s disease develop a dementia which is similar to that seen in Lewy body disease.
What Are The Treatments For Lewy Body Dementia
There is no cure for LBD, but treatments can help with the symptoms:
- Medicines may help with some of the cognitive, movement, and psychiatric symptoms
- Physical therapy can help with movement problems
- Occupational therapy may help find ways to more easily do everyday activities
- Speech therapy may help with swallowing difficulties and trouble speaking loudly and clearly
- Mental health counseling can help people with LBD and their families learn how to manage difficult emotions and behaviors. It can also help them plan for the future.
- Music or art therapy may reduce anxiety and improve well-being
Support groups can also be helpful for people with LBD and their caregivers. Support groups can give emotional and social support. They are also a place where people can share tips about how to deal with day-to-day challenges.
NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
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Is There Treatment Available
At present there is no cure for Lewy body disease. Symptoms such as depression and disturbing hallucinations can usually be reduced by medication. However, medications to relieve hallucinations may increase muscle tremors and stiffness. Conversely, anti-Parkinson drugs may make hallucinations worse.
Emerging evidence suggests that cholinesterase inhibitor drugs may be quite helpful for some people with this condition.
People with this form of dementia are very sensitive to the side effects of neuroleptic drugs such as antipsychotic medications. It is essential all medications are supervised by a specialist to avoid these severe side effects.
Lbd Vs Alzheimers And Parkinsons
It is remarkable how similar LBD, PD, and Alzheimers disease are in their symptoms, causes, and treatment.
This table illustrates the symptoms they share. But they are just a small part of the symptoms experienced by those affected.
LBD has many symptoms. As the disease progresses or continues to grow, the symptoms worsen.
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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.
Diagnosing Lewy Body Dementia: For Professionals
Lewy body dementia can be difficult to diagnose. Talking to both patients and caregivers helps doctors make a diagnosis. It is important to ask the patient and their care partners about any symptoms involving thinking, movement, sleep, behavior, or mood. Certain medications can worsen LBD symptoms be aware of all current medications and supplements the patient is taking.
Dementia with Lewy bodies is often hard to diagnose because its early symptoms may resemble those of Alzheimer’s disease or a psychiatric illness. As a result, it is often misdiagnosed or missed altogether. As additional symptoms appear, making an accurate diagnosis may become easier.
The good news is that doctors are increasingly able to diagnose LBD earlier and more accurately, as researchers identify which symptoms and biomarkers help distinguish it from similar disorders.
Visiting a family doctor is often the first step for people who are experiencing changes in thinking, movement, or behavior. If a persons primary doctor is not familiar with LBD, they may have patients seek second opinions from specialists, like a geriatric psychiatrist, neuropsychologist, or a geriatrician to help diagnose LBD. If a specialist cannot be found in your community, ask the neurology department at a nearby medical school for a referral. Neurologists generally have the expertise needed to diagnose LBD.
Difficult as it is, getting an accurate diagnosis of LBD early on is important so that a person:
Caring For A Person With Lewy Body Dementia
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As someone caring for a person with Lewy body dementia , you will take on many different responsibilities over time. You do not have to face these responsibilities alone. Many sources of help are available, from adult day centers and respite care to online and in-person support groups.
Below are some actions you can take to adjust to your new roles, be realistic about your situation, and care for yourself.
Stages Of Lewy Body Dementia
Lewy body dementia usually takes five to eight years to progress from diagnosis to death. Some cases may progress faster, while others may progress much more slowly. Regardless of the speed of progression, the timeline of Lewy body dementia is usually distinguished by early, middle, and late stages.
Unlike other forms of dementia, Lewy body dementia does not always progress predictably through each stage. This makes it impossible to know for sure how many years each stage will last or how slowly or quickly the disease will progress.
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Is There A Link
According to the Alzheimers Association, Alzheimers disease and LBD can overlap. Lewy bodies can occur in people with Alzheimers, and plaques and tangles key markers of Alzheimers disease occur in many individuals with LBD.
Although LBD and Alzheimers disease may share similar symptoms, they are different conditions and do not appear to lead to the other.
The following table compares the two conditions.
|Lewy body dementia|
Both conditions typically affect older adults.
Coping With Lewy Body Dementia
Coping with Lewy body dementia involves much more than your treatment plan. Its also essential to have access to social support and a safe home.
In the early stages of this condition, symptoms are typically milder, and people with LBD can function. However, as the disease progresses, there will be a severe decline in cognitive and motor abilities, and assisted care will be necessary.
Taking care of your physical healthy by exercising regularly and eating nutritious meals, is also important. Symptoms of anxiety and depression could develop as a result of this condition. Speaking to a therapist who has experience working with people who have dementia, will help.
Behavioral changes are to be expected with LBD. Keeping a diary to track your triggers and what times of the day you experience changes in your behavior, will help you understand your condition better.
Managing The Effects Of Dementia With Lewy Bodies
A person with dementia with Lewy bodies might:
- have recurring visual hallucinations see things that are not there
- experience disturbed sleep known as Rapid Eye Movement sleep disorder, in which people are restless and can experience intense dreams/nightmares
- experience sudden changes and fluctuations in alertness people may stare blankly into space for periods of time, seem drowsy and lethargic and spend a lot of time sleeping
- have slowed movement, difficulty walking, shuffling or appear rigid
- experience tremors usually in the hands whilst at rest
- have problems with balance and be prone to falls
- bladder and bowel problems
- difficulties with swallowing
Memory is often less affected than with other types of dementia but people may be at more risk of mood and behaviour changes such as apathy, anxiety, depression, delusions and paranoia. One type of delusion, known as Capgras syndrome, in which the person believes that a friend or relation has been replaced by an imposter can be particularly difficult for families. Other symptoms may include changes in blood pressure, body temperature and impaired sense of smell.
How Can A Person Diagnosed With Lewy Body Dementia Live The Best Life Possible
First, its important to interact with others as much as possible. Plus exercise and eat a healthy diet to keep mind and body as strong as possible.
Use music and aromatherapy to reduce anxiety and improve mood.
Other things you can do involve seeking the help and assistance of others. Therapists can improve the quality of life of someone living with Lewy body dementia. Therapists include:
- Physical therapists: These therapists can help improve physical strength, flexibility, balance and walking mechanics.
- Occupational therapists: These therapists can teach skills and methods to maintain your ability to perform activities of everyday life and remain independent.
- Speech therapists: These therapists can improve swallowing difficulties and ability to speak more clearly.
Persons with Lewy body dementia and their families can also benefit from counseling with a psychotherapist. This counselor teaches how to manage emotional and behavioral problems. Finally, joining a support group there are support groups for persons with LBD and for the caregivers of persons with LBD. Support groups help solve day-to-day problems and frustrations through sharing similar experiences. See the resource section of this article for links to support groups.
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