Lewy body dementia (LBD) is a form of dementia that is characterized by protein deposits, called Lewy bodies, forming in the brain. Its symptoms are similar to those in both Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Because the cognitive symptoms are so similar to Alzheimer’s disease, it can be hard to tell the difference between the two diseases. However, they are distinctly different.
How LBD and Alzheimer’s Disease Differ
One of the differences between LBD and Alzheimer’s disease is that a person who has LBD may experience significant fluctuations in their cognitive abilities from one hour to the next or one day to the next. The may also alternate between being alert and aware and not.
People with LBD also have motor symptoms that Alzheimer’s patients do not. The motor symptoms are similar to those people with Parkinson’s disease experience, such as slowed movement and tremors. These kinds of symptoms begin in the later stages of LBD for about 70 percent of patients.
People with LBD don’t all experience the same symptoms or develop them at the same rate.
Some LBD symptoms are:
-Hallucinations: Visual hallucinations are usually one of the first symptoms to appear. The older adult might see animals, shapes, or people that are not present. Hallucinations involving the other senses are also possible.
-Autonomic Nervous System Symptoms: The part of the nervous system that regulates things like blood pressure, sweating, pulse, and digestion can be affected by LBD. These changes can cause dizziness, falls, and constipation.
-Sleep Problems: LBD can cause an REM sleep disorder that makes the senior act out their dreams while they are sleeping.
-Attention Problems: You may notice the older adult having trouble paying attention to what is going on around them. They might stare into space or take long naps.
The kind of care a senior with LBD needs depends on the stage of the disease they are in and the kinds of symptoms they are experiencing. Often people in the early stages can continue living at home with some help. They will also need to be monitored for changing symptoms.
Elderly care can help keep your senior family member with LBD safe and comfortable at home. Elderly care providers can be hired to come for just a few hours during the week to do things like clean the house and prepare meals. As the disease progresses and care needs change, you can increase the number of hours per week that the older adult receives elderly care.