Lewy Body Dementia
Lewy body dementia is an umbrella term for two related diagnoses. Lewy body dementia refers to both Parkinson’s disease dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies. In Lewy body dementia, clumps of alpha-synuclein and ubiquitin (protein deposits called Lewy bodies) develop in nerve cells in regions of your brain involved in thinking, memory and motor control. Dementia with Lewy bodies is the third most common cause of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia, accounting for 10 to 25 percent of cases. Lewy body dementia affects 1.3 million individuals in the United States alone.
The main feature of Lewy body dementia is progressive cognitive decline, combined with three additional defining features:
- Pronounced “fluctuations” in alertness and attention, such as frequent drowsiness, lethargy, lengthy periods of time spent staring into space, or disorganized speech
- Recurrent visual hallucinations
- Parkinson-like motor symptoms (such as rigidity and the loss of spontaneous movement).
Symptoms of Lewy body dementia include:
Visual hallucinations, such as colors, shapes, animals or people that aren’t there are a common symptom of this disease. Hallucinations are typically one of the first symptoms of Lewy body dementia. Some individuals may also experience sound (auditory), smell (olfactory) or touch (tactile) hallucinations.
Individual’s experience symptoms similar to those of Parkinson’s disease such as slowed movement, rigid muscles, tremors or a shuffling walk.
Poor regulations of body function:
Blood pressure, pulse, sweating and digestive process are regulated by a part of the nervous system that is affected by Lewy body dementia. This results in dizziness, falls and bowel issues.
Individual’s can experience cognitive problems similar to problems experienced in Alzheimer’s disease (such as confusion, reduced attention span and eventually memory loss).
The sleep disorder called rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder which causes one to physically act out their dreams while sleeping is a common symptom of this disease.
Frequent episodes of drowsiness, long periods of staring into space, long naps during the day or disorganized speech is common with Lewy body dementia.
Individuals may experience depression during the course of their illness. Unfortunately, like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, Lewy body dementia is a neurodegenerative disorder that results in progressive intellectual and functional deterioration. There are no known therapies to stop or slow the progression of Lewy body dementia. The average survival after the time of diagnosis is similar to that in Alzheimer’s disease, about 8 years, with progressively increasing disability.
Feinberg Consulting can offer support to families dealing with dementia and many other diseases. Call us at 877-538-5425 and speak to us today about your unique situation. We can help you and your family return to a more familiar normal.