It’s common for people unfamiliar with dementia to use the terms Alzheimer’s and dementia interchangeably. Alzheimer’s is actually one type of dementia. While Alzheimer’s is most common, accounting for between 60 and 80 percent of all cases, there are others. One is Lewy body dementia (LBD).
What Is Lewy Body Dementia?
Lewy body dementia is an umbrella term that encompasses Parkinson’s dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies. It is named for neurologist Dr. Friedrich Lewy, who discovered LBD while researching Parkinson’s.
According to the Lewy Body Dementia Association, nearly 1.4 million people in this country live with LBD. Until the death of popular comedian and actor Robin Williams, few people had heard of it. Williams’s death by suicide was linked to depression attributed to LBD.
Lewy body dementia is a progressive brain disorder which causes abnormal protein deposits to accumulate in the brain. Over time, these deposits damage the areas of the brain that govern thought, movement, behavior, memory, and sleep. It also impairs basic bodily functions, including bowel and bladder control.
9 Symptoms of Lewy Body Dementia
Because this type of dementia isn’t as prevalent, people experiencing it may be misdiagnosed. Symptoms may be attributed to stress or aging. The most common signs of LBD often include:
- Memory problems
- Delusions or hallucinations
- Insomnia or other sleep disturbances
- Difficulty with abstract thought
- Fatigue or sluggishness
- Decreased attention span
- Muscle rigidity
- Loss of coordination
Unfortunately, there currently isn’t a cure for Lewy body dementia. Physicians work with other health care professionals to create a care plan for their patients to help manage the difficult symptoms of LBD. Here are a few ways they do that.
3 Ways to Manage the Symptoms of Lewy Body Dementia
- Utilize therapies: A care plan that incorporates a variety of therapies is important. Combining physical, occupational, and speech therapy may help patients navigate mobility impairments, diminished verbal skills, and other physical deficits caused by LBD.
- Try pharmacological interventions: If an adult with LBD is suffering from delusions or hallucinations, their quality of life and their caregivers suffer. A physician can prescribe pharmacological solutions that may keep these difficult symptoms under control.
- Consult a sleep specialist: Sleep issues are another common symptom that can prove difficult for a person with LBD and their family caregiver. This is where the assistance of a sleep specialist can be beneficial. Among other interventions, they can order sleep testing. This aids in developing a treatment plan that may allow the patient to enjoy a good night’s sleep.
Memory Care Communities Improve Quality of Life
As is true for many types of dementia, managing the care of a loved one with LBD at home can be challenging. If you are a family caregiver struggling to provide quality care to a family member with LBD, a memory care community might be an ideal solution. Memory care can improve the quality of life for both the person living with LBD and their caregiver.