Whats The Difference Between Lewy Body Dementia Parkinsons Disease And Alzheimers Disease
Lewy body dementia is an umbrella term for two related clinical diagnoses: dementia with Lewy bodies and Parkinsons disease dementia. These disorders share the same underlying changes in the brain and very similar symptoms, but the symptoms appear in a different order depending;on where the Lewy bodies first form.
Dementia with Lewy bodies is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory and thinking abilities that are severe enough to interfere with everyday activities. It specifically affects a persons ability to plan and solve problems, called executive function, and their ability to understand visual information. Dementia always appears first in DLB. The motor symptoms of Parkinsons such as tremor, slowness, stiffness and walking/balance/gait problems usually become more evident as the disease progresses. Visual hallucinations, REM sleep behavior disorder, fluctuating levels of alertness and attention, mood changes and autonomic dysfunction are also characteristic of DLB.
Finally, Alzheimers is characterized by different abnormal clumps called amyloid plaques, and jumbled fiber bundles called tau tangles. These microscopic structural changes in the brain were discovered by Dr. Alois Alzheimer in 1906. These plaques and tangles, together with loss of connections between nerve cells, contribute to loss of coherence and memory, as well as a progressive impairment in conducting normal activities of daily living.
Types Of Lewy Body Dementia And Diagnosis
LBD refers to either of two related diagnoses dementia with Lewy bodies and Parkinson’s disease dementia. Both diagnoses have the same underlying changes in the brain and, over time, people with either diagnosis develop similar symptoms. The difference lies largely in the timing of cognitive and movement symptoms.
In DLB, cognitive symptoms develop within a year of movement symptoms. People with DLB have a decline in thinking ability that may look somewhat like Alzheimer’s disease. But over time, they also develop movement and other distinctive symptoms of LBD.
In Parkinson’s disease dementia, cognitive symptoms develop more than a year after the onset of movement symptoms . Parkinson’s disease dementia starts as a movement disorder, with symptoms such as slowed movement, muscle stiffness, tremor, and a shuffling walk. These symptoms are consistent with a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. Later on, cognitive symptoms of dementia and changes in mood and behavior may arise.
Not all people with Parkinson’s disease develop dementia, and it is difficult to predict who will. Many older people with Parkinson’s develop some degree of dementia.
Caregivers may be reluctant to talk about a person’s symptoms when that person is present. Ask to speak with the doctor privately if necessary. The more information a doctor has, the more accurate a diagnosis can be.
Treating Dementia With Lewy Bodies
There’s currently no cure for dementia with Lewy bodies, but treatments can help manage the symptoms.
First of all, your future health and social care needs will need to be assessed and a care plan drawn up.
This;is a way of ensuring you receive the right treatment for your needs. It involves identifying areas where you may need some assistance, such as:
- what support you or your carer need for you to remain as independent as possible
- whether there are any changes that need to be made to your home to make it easier to live in
- whether you need any financial assistance
Read more about;care plans
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.
What Is Dementia With Lewy Bodies
Dementia with Lewy Bodies may account for 10-15 per cent;of all cases of dementia. DLB can;be diagnosed wrongly and is often;mistaken for Alzheimer’s disease.;
DLB is sometimes known by other names.;These include Lewy body dementia, Lewy;body variant of Alzheimer’s disease, diffuse;Lewy body disease and cortical Lewy body;disease. All these terms refer to;the;same;condition.
What a short video about dementia with Lewy bodies:
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How Can We Support The Sleep/wake Cycle Of Dlb
For people with DLB who are confused about the day-night cycle, some daily strategies can be helpful. At night, starting a lights out routine that happens at the same hour every day, where all curtains are closed and lights are turned off, can help the person understand that it is sleep time. During the day, opening the curtains, allowing patients to spend as much time in the daylight as possible, avoiding naps, and organizing stimulating activities, can be helpful. Having lots of calendars and clocks in every room might also help a person with DLB be less confused about the time of day.
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.
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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.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Lewy Body Dementia
The most common symptoms of LBD include changes in thinking abilities, movement, sleep, and behavior. The degree of symptoms can vary widely and people with LBD may not have every symptom. Common symptoms include:
- Trouble with attention, planning, multitasking, problem-solving, and reasoning. Memory problems are also common but may not be noticeable early on.
- Problems with visual and spatial abilities, such as judging distance and depth or misidentifying objects.
- Unpredictable changes in concentration, attention, alertness, and wakefulness.
- Visual hallucinations, which occur in up to 80% of people with LBD, often early on.
- Movement changes, such as tremor or muscle stiffness, known as parkinsonism.
- Sleep disorders, including rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder in which a person seems to act out dreams while asleep, excessive sleep or lack of sleep, and restless leg syndrome.
- Depression, lack of interest, anxiety, ideas not based in reality, and other changes in mental health.
- Sensitivity to heat and cold, dizziness, poor sense of smell, and other changes in automatic functions of the body.
Individuals with mild symptoms can often function close to normally. As the disease progresses and thinking and movement abilities decline, people with LBD will need more help and may depend on caregivers full time.
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Understanding Lewy Bodies Disease
Dementia with Lewy bodies is a form of progressive dementia. It’s caused by the decay of the tissues in the brain.
People with DLB have a buildup of abnormal protein particles in their brain tissue, called Lewy bodies. Lewy bodies are also found in the brain tissue of people with Parkinson disease and Alzheimer disease . But in these conditions, Lewy bodies are generally found in different parts of the brain.
The presence of Lewy bodies in DLB, PD, and AD suggests a link among these conditions. But scientists havent yet figured out what the link is.
DLB affects a persons ability to think, reason, and process information. It can also affect movement, personality, and memory. DLB becomes more common with age. It often starts when a person is in his or her 60s and 70s.; DLB is progressive, which means it continues to develop over time. There are several types of dementia with different causes.
What causes dementia with Lewy bodies?
The decay or deterioration of brain tissue causes dementia with Lewy bodies. DLB may be genetic. But it is not always clear why someone develops DLB. Lewy bodies in the brain affect substances called neurotransmitters. A neurotransmitter is a chemical that helps send signals from one nerve cell to another.
One type of neurotransmitter is dopamine. It helps send signals that cause muscle movement. Lewy bodies interfere with the making of dopamine. A lack of dopamine causes movement problems, such as those seen in PD.
Treatment Of Behavior And Mood Problems In Lewy Body Dementia
Behavioral and mood problems in people with LBD can arise from hallucinations, delusions, pain, illness, stress, or anxiety. They may also be the result of frustration, fear, or feeling overwhelmed. The person may resist care or lash out verbally or physically.
Medications are appropriate if the behavior interferes with the person’s care or the safety of the person or others. If medication is used, then the lowest possible dose for the shortest period of time is recommended.
The first step is to visit a doctor to see if a medical condition unrelated to LBD is causing the problem. Injuries, fever, urinary tract or pulmonary infections, pressure ulcers , and constipation can worsen behavioral problems and increase confusion.
Certain medications, such as anticholinergics and antihistamines may also cause behavioral problems. For example, some medications for sleep problems, pain, bladder control, and LBD-related movement symptoms can cause confusion, agitation, hallucinations, and delusions. Similarly, some anti-anxiety medicines can actually increase anxiety in people with LBD. Review your medications with your doctor to determine if any changes are needed.
What Happens In The Later Stages Of Alzheimers
As the disease progresses, a persons symptoms will become more severe.
In some cases, people will experience hallucinations and delusions, while many will develop behaviours that are unusual or out of character.
These can include disturbed sleep patterns and becoming aggressive.
As the disease gets worse a person will need more and more help to carry out daily tasks – eventually requiring almost constant care.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Alzheimers
In the early stages of disease, the signs may be subtle at first.
However, over time they become more pronounced and begin to interfere with a persons daily life.
While there are common symptoms, every person diagnosed with Alzheimers is unique and will likely experience the disease differently.
But, for most, the earliest sign are problems with memory. Here are the five you should look out for.
As the disease progresses a person might:
- lose common items including keys and glasses around the house
- struggle to find the word they are looking for in conversation
- forget recent conversations or events
- get lost in a familiar place, or while on a familiar journey
- forget important anniversaries, birthdays or appointments
Though memory problems are the most common, there are other signs a person may be struggling with dementia.
- speech problems a person may struggle to follow a conversation or find they are often repeating themselves
- problems judging distance, navigating stairs or parking the car
- difficulties making decisions and solving problems
- losing track of the day or date
Other signs to watch for include people becoming depressed, irritable, withdrawn and disinterested in activities that they previously enjoyed.
A study published earlier this month also revealed that having cataracts raises your risk of getting dementia.
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What You Need To Know
- Lewy body dementia is a form of progressive dementia that affects a persons ability to think, reason, and process information.
- Diagnosing Lewy body dementia can be challenging; an estimated 1.4 million Americans are living with the disease.
- LBD has three features that distinguish it from other forms of dementia:
- Fluctuating effects on mental functioning, particularly alertness and attention, which may resemble delirium
- Recurrent visual hallucinations
- Parkinson-like movement symptoms, such as rigidity and lack of spontaneous movement.
Lewy bodies are clumps of abnormal protein particles that, for reasons that are not fully understood, accumulate in the brain. These deposits cause a form of dementia called Lewy body dementia, or LBD which is what the late actor and comedian Robin Williams suffered from.
LBD is not the same as Parkinsons, but the two are closely related: LBD causes some or all of the motor symptoms of Parkinsons. More than 1 million people in the U.S. are affected by Lewy body dementia, according to the Lewy Body Dementia Association.
How Can We Manage Hallucinations
It may not be necessary to treat all hallucinations of a person with DLB. Hallucinations are often harmless, and it is okay to allow them to happen, as long as they are not disruptive or upsetting to the person or his/her surroundings. Sometimes, recognizing the hallucination and then switching the topic might be an efficient way of handling frustrations that occur because of a hallucination. If hallucinations need medical treatment, your provider may be able to discuss and suggest some options. However, most medications used to treat hallucinations may make movement symptoms worse.
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What Does Lewy Body Dementia Look Like
Lewy body dementia affects a persons ability to think and process information and it can negatively impact memory and alter personality. Though it shares aspects of other forms of dementia, there are distinct hallmarks of LBD. Lewy body dementia symptoms include:
- Fluctuating attention/alertness: These shifts can last hours or go on for days. The person may stare into space, appear lethargic or drowsy, and have hard-to-understand speech, appearing a lot like delirium. At other times, the person may have much more clarity of thought.
- Visual hallucinations: Often, these are very detailed hallucinations and visions of people or animals, and they can recur.
- Movement disorders: Parkinsons-like movement issues, such as muscle rigidity, tremors, falls, or a shuffling gait or way of walking, may occur.
What Shall I Do If I Spot The Signs Of Alzheimer’s
Despite there being no cure for the disease;there are things that can be done to reduce the risk or delay the onset of dementia:
– stop smoking and cut down on alcohol consumption- eat healthily, balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight- keep physically fit and mentally active
You can also access support from charities such as The Alzheimer’s society.
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What Is Lewy Body Dementia
Lewy body dementia , is a brain disorder in which proteins, called alpha-synucleins, build up inside certain neurons . These clumps of proteins, called Lewy bodies, cause damage to neurons in areas of the brain that affect mental capabilities, behavior, movement and sleep.
In elderly patients, LBD is one of the most common causes of dementia. The symptoms of LBD may closely resemble those of other neurological disorders, including Alzheimers disease and Parkinsons disease.
Doctors do not know why you or your loved one develop LBD while others do not. There is no cure for LBD, but your symptoms can be managed with certain medications, like cholinesterase inhibitors and levodopa. You or your loved one may also benefit from non-medical treatments like physical therapy and speech therapy.
Apda In Your Community
Here are two common scenarios that may sound familiar:
Scenario 1A patient develops a series of neurologic symptoms, is evaluated by a neurologist and is told that she has Parkinsons disease . She then visits another neurologist for a second opinion and is told she has Lewy Body Dementia .
Scenario 2A patient has his first visit with his neurologist and is told that he has PD, at a subsequent visit the diagnosis is changed to Parkinsons disease dementia , and at a follow up visit the diagnosis is changed yet again to Dementia with Lewy Bodies .
Both of these situations understandably cause great uncertainty and frustration.
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