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Why Is It Called Lewy Body Dementia

What Distinguishes Lewy Body Dementia From Alzheimers

Understanding Lewy Body Dementia

In the earliest stages of Alzheimerâs, memory loss is usually the dominant symptom, while in LBD memory might be well-functioning. Attention and alertness, however, may be impaired in LBD, making the symptoms easy to confuse with memory problems.Also, the diseases are characterized by excess buildup of different proteins in the brain. In both cases, these brain proteins are misfolded and cause clumps. In Alzheimerâs, these clumps are called plaques and tangles, caused by tau and amyloid proteins. LBD features the presence of Lewy Bodies, which are misfolded alpha-synuclein proteins.LBD symptoms can look similar to patterns of cognitive decline that are common in Alzheimerâs, but people with LBD are more likely than people with Alzheimerâs to have these early symptoms:

  • Depth perception problems
  • Gait imbalance
  • Or other movement problems that are common to âParkinsonâs Disease

While someone in the advanced stages of Alzheimerâs may experience hallucinations, visual hallucinations are more common in LBD and can arise early in the disorder.

Sleep Behavior Disorder is also often a problem with LBD, but is not characteristic of Alzheimerâs disease. Sleep Behavior Disorder can cause individuals to physically act out dreams, which can be frightening and/or dangerous. There is risk of injuring themselves or their bed partners, and this behavior may begin years, or even decades, before LBD symptoms appear.

When To Seek Help

Individuals should seek help if they believe that they or someone they know is showing signs of LBD, including changes in cognition, behavior, movement, or sleep.

Typically, individuals should see a family doctor first, who may perform some tests. The doctor may then refer the individual to a specialist, such as a neurologist or psychiatrist.

To prepare for the appointment, it can be helpful to write out:

  • a detailed list of all symptoms, when they began, and their severity
  • any relevant medical history or family history
  • all medications and supplements taken
  • a list of questions for the doctor

It can also be a good idea to bring along a family member or close friend who can provide support and give the doctor more information about symptoms.

LBD can affect many areas of a persons life. Therefore, building a specialist care team can provide the most comprehensive support and care for the person.

The NIA note that, in addition to neurologists and other doctors, specialists that can help

cognitive symptoms, such as changes to memory and thinking. They may also reduce hallucinations and delusions.

A healthcare professional may also prescribe atypical antipsychotics off-label.

However, a person should take these with caution. This is because they can cause severe side effects and worsen movement symptoms.

How Is Dementia Fatal And Why

An increasing leading cause of death among the elderly today is dementia. Dementia is a group of brain degenerative diseases that cause memory and thought impairment. There are different types of dementia that can affect people at various stages throughout old age.

Although there is no specific known cause of dementia, many times it results from the gradual deterioration of the brain which causes a severe impact on cognitive function over time. Its helpful to know what to expect if you care for someone with dementia.

If left unaddressed, the symptoms of dementia and the changes it causes can be overwhelming and sometimes frightening. Why exactly is dementia so fatal? How does dementia eventually kill you?

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Are There Medicines To Treat Dlb

Though there is no cure for DLB yet, there are medications that help manage the symptoms. These medications are called cholinesterase inhibitors, and they can help if a person with DLB is having memory problems. Some examples of these medicines are donepezil, rivastigmine and galantamine. If a person with DLB has movement symptoms they may be treated with medications used for Parkinsons disease, such as levodopa. Sleep problems may be managed by sleep medications including melatonin.

Because people with DLB are usually very sensitive to medications, any new medication, even one that is not being used for the brain, needs to be reviewed with the persons provider to avoid potential contraindication.

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Dementia With Lewy Bodies

Robin Williams was killed by Lewy, the brain disease that ...
Other names Diffuse Lewy body disease, dementia due to Lewy body disease
Microscopic image of a Lewy body in a neuron of the substantia nigra scale bar=20 microns
After the age of 50, median 76
Variable average survival 4 years from diagnosis
Frequency About 0.4% of persons older than 65

Dementia with Lewy bodies is a type of dementia characterized by changes in sleep, behavior, cognition, movement, and regulation of automatic bodily functions. Memory loss is not always an early symptom. The disease worsens over time and is usually diagnosed when cognitive impairment interferes with normal daily functioning. Together with Parkinson’s disease dementia, DLB is one of the two Lewy body dementias. It is a common form of dementia, but the prevalence is not known accurately and many diagnoses are missed. The disease was first described by Kenji Kosaka in 1976.

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What Causes Lewy Body Dementia

LBD happens when Lewy bodies build up in parts of the brain that control memory, thinking, and movement. Lewy bodies are abnormal deposits of a protein called alpha-synuclein. Researchers don’t know exactly why these deposits form. But they do know that other diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease, also involve a build-up of that protein.

Lewy Body Dementia Canada

Learn to live best with LBD


Im no fan of applying the concept of stages or phases to predict the trajectory of a person with Lewy Body Dementia . Ive witnessed far, far too much variation. Precipitous drops. Miraculous recoveries. Dizzying variations. I consider it a continuum. And not a linear one.

So I never apply stages, phases or expectations. The only one I knew for certain, was the very end. The rest was a wild ride indeed.

Lewy Body Dementia life expectancy is impossible to predict.

But theres a constant desire by people desperate for answers, for a clue to where theyre going, whats next, how to plan or just get by. And for that reason, I present the best one Ive found.

I defer to the exceptional work of an exceptionally resourceful and committed duo, Sue Lewis and June Christensen, who exhaustively compiled the document based on input from approximately 300 members of an online group called Lewy Body Caring Spouses in 2006.

In my view, this is the best description of a possible sequence, categorized into five groupings of symptoms, which will always have a great deal of overlap.

Keep in mind these categories and their contents are potential. Personally, I shy away from the phrase stage and use something like earlier or later in the sequence of symptoms, which can fluctuate shockingly. This is a subtle, but important difference to me.

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Where Can I Get More Information

For more information on neurological disorders or research programs funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, contact the Institute’s Brain Resources and Information Network at:

Office of Communications and Public LiaisonNational Institute of Neurological Disorders and StrokeNational Institutes of HealthBethesda, MD 20892

NINDS health-related material is provided for information purposes only and does not necessarily represent endorsement by or an official position of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke or any other Federal agency. Advice on the treatment or care of an individual patient should be obtained through consultation with a physician who has examined that patient or is familiar with that patient’s medical history.

All NINDS-prepared information is in the public domain and may be freely copied. Credit to the NINDS or the NIH is appreciated.

How Is Parkinsons Disease Dementia Diagnosed

What Is Lewy Body Disease?

No single test can diagnose Parkinsons disease dementia. Instead, doctors rely on a series or combination of tests and indicators.

Your neurologist will likely diagnose you with Parkinsons and then track your progression. They may monitor you for signs of dementia. As you get older, your risk for Parkinsons dementia increases.

Your doctor is more likely to conduct regular testing to monitor your cognitive functions, memory recall, and mental health.

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Cognitive Symptoms Of Lewy Body Dementia

LBD causes changes in thinking abilities. These changes may include:

  • Visual hallucinations, or seeing things that are not present. Visual hallucinations occur in up to 80 percent of people with LBD, often early on. Nonvisual hallucinations, such as hearing or smelling things that are not present, are less common than visual ones but may also occur.
  • Unpredictable changes in concentration, attention, alertness, and wakefulness from day to day and sometimes throughout the day. Ideas may be disorganized, unclear, or illogical. These kinds of changes are common in LBD and may help distinguish it from Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Severe loss of thinking abilities that interfere with daily activities. Unlike in Alzheimer’s dementia, memory problems may not be evident at first but often arise as LBD progresses. Other changes related to thinking may include poor judgment, confusion about time and place, and difficulty with language and numbers.

How Does Hospice Provide Care For Patients With Lewy Body Dementia

Though Lewy body dementias are incurable illnesses, hospice can provide treatment that significantly improves a patients end-of-life experience. Using a holistic, patient-centric approach to care, hospice can provide care for the mind, body, and spirit of a Lewy body dementia patient and relieve families of some of the burden that Lewy body dementia brings to everyone impacted by the diagnosis.

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What To Do If Your Loved One Has Dementia

It can be extremely difficult to watch someone you care about slowly lose themselves over time to dementia. Worldwide, there still tends to be some major misunderstandings about what exactly dementia is and how it affects people. Unfortunately, every type of dementia not only affects the individual diagnosed with it but their family members and loved ones as well.

If your loved one has dementia, being aware of what to expect is the first step. Coming to terms with the disease is necessary for your loved one and your well-being.

Seeking the professional care your loved one needs is crucial as it can keep them as comfortable as possible throughout all stages of dementia. Up until death, its important to appreciate as many moments as possible while they are still here and functioning.

Although dementia is fatal, there are plenty of healthcare and support resources to ensure you and your family enjoy the remaining lifespan of the dementia patient to the best of your ability.

What Is The Link Between Parkinsons And Lewy Body Dementia

Dementia with Lewy bodies: MedlinePlus Genetics

Being Patient: Are Parkinsons disease and Lewy body dementia related?

Dag Aarsland: Yes, theyre related in terms of symptoms and the brain changes. Many scientists consider Parkinsons and Lewy body dementia as a continuum of disease rather than two separate diseases. But there are very active and lively discussions about that. There are arguments for separating and combining them, but there are many similarities.

Being Patient: Do you group Lewy body dementia with Parkinsons disease in your research?

Dag Aarsland: From a research point-of-view, we try to separate them. We identify the specifics and categorize patients in different groups and study them carefully in order to see how they relate. In clinical practice, its different. I also see patients with Parkinsons and unfortunately, many of them develop dementia and hallucinations or memory problems. In clinical practice, its very much the same challenges for patients, carers and the doctor in terms of findings and the right therapy.

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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.

How Dementia With Lewy Bodies Is Managed

There is no cure for dementia with Lewy bodies or any medication that will slow it down.

However, a few different medicines can be effective in controlling some of the symptoms. In particular, acetylcholinesterase inhibitors have been shown to improve symptoms such as hallucinations and confusion in some people.

Supportive treatments such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and speech and language therapy can help improve any problems with movement, everyday tasks, and communication.

Psychological therapies and specific dementia activities, such as memory cafés, can also help with memory loss, confusion, and feelings of disorientation.

Read more about treating dementia with Lewy bodies

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Two Of The Following Are Present :

  • Fluctuating cognition: Mental problems varying during the day, especially attention and alertness.
  • Visual hallucinations: Detailed and well-formed visions, which occur and recur.
  • RBD: Physically acting out dreams while asleep.

A DLB diagnosis is even more likely if the individual also experiences any of the following: repeated falls, fainting, brief loss of consciousness, delusions, apathy, anxiety, problems with temperature and blood pressure regulation, urinary incontinence, and chronic constipation, loss of smell, or sensitivity to neuroleptic medications that are given to control hallucinations and other psychiatric symptoms.

Finally, the timing of symptoms is a reliable clue: if cognitive symptoms appear before or within a year of motor symptoms, DLB is more likely the cause than Parkinsonâs disease. Signs of stroke or vascular dementia usually negate the likelihood of DLB.

Testing is usually done to rule out other possible causes of dementia, motor, or behavioral symptoms. Brain imaging can detect brain shrinkage and help rule out stroke, fluid on the brain , or subdural hematoma. Blood and other tests might show vitamin B12 deficiency, thyroid problems, syphilis, HIV, or vascular disease. Depression is also a common cause of dementia-like symptoms. Additional tests can include an electroencephalogram or spinal tap .

Stages And Progression Of Lewy Body Dementia

What is Lewy Body Dementia or LBD?

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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What Is Dementia With Lewy Body Disease

Dementia with Lewy body disease is a condition that causes changes in thinking, behavior, and movement. DLB usually starts with thinking and behavior changes that are followed by problems with movement. The movement problems in DLB are similar to those seen in people with more classical Parkinsons disease.

The Lewy Body Roller Coaster

My mother J.E.T was originally diagnosed with Frontal-temporal Dementia in early 2011, but she has since been diagnosed with Lewy body dementia. However, I have used the word diagnosed for lack of a better word, but the reality of this horrible disease is that an accurate diagnosis is only made after death.

Often called the Roller Coaster of Lewy body dementia, this disease shows its true colors in a roller coaster like cycle of good & bad days. Over the past few months, we have seen a rapid decline in my mom, specifically the past few weeks. With the bad days becoming more frequent and the good days now mirroring what the bad days looked like months ago.

On a bad day we struggle to get my mom to open her mouth for medicine or food. This is not because she doesnt want to its because her brain isnt able to communicate with the rest of her body. The past few days have been bad days, each one seeming to reach a new level of decline.

The good days are ones in which she shows verbal and physical responses. On a good day she is eating and drinking enough liquids in order for her to stay hydrated. While this might not sound like such a good day to others, these are the days we so dearly cherish and pray for each day when we wake up.

Today was a good day.

We did not learn anything from the doctor that we did not already know, but we DID learn something from my mother she hears and understands exactly what we are saying.Today was a good day.


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