How many of you are aware of Lewy Body Dementia (often referred to as LBD)? I have found, that after Alzheimer’s and Vascular Dementia, Lewy Body is the next type of dementia at people are aware of, but often know the least about it compaired to the other types of dementia. I once confused LBD with Frontotemporal Dementia myself, when I was an art therapy intern at an Adult Day Care.
Lewy Body Dementia is a type of dementia where alpha-synuclein (a protein) is deposited abnormally in the brain. These are the same protiens found in Parkinson’s, and where they are found determens whether you have LBD and/or Parkinson’s. With an estimated 1.4 million people with Lewy Body Dementia in the United States, I hardly think we can call it an uncommon disease. Depending on where you look it is listed as either the second or the third most common form of demenita. These symptoms look very similar to those of Alzheimer’s and/or Parkinson’s which leads to LBD under-diagnosed and many doctors unfamiliar with the disease. People with the diagnosis of LBD will see changes cognitively, physically, behaviorally, and with sleep, with up to two years or more before it becomes diagnosable as LBD. As with all forms of dementia having it diagnosed as soon and as accurately as possible is key. Early diagnosis will allow the individual to seek treatment and care that can aid in keeping the quality of life high and living as long as possible without becoming dependent on caregivers.
Lewy Body looks like a movement disorder. It looks like a cognitive disorder, a memory disorder. It looks like hallucinations, behavioral problems, and difficulty with complex mental actives. There are physical, behavioral, and sleep components to LBD. These symptoms will look like having trouble processing information and understanding visual language. It looks like difficulty with attention, cognition, and alertness. It looks like tremors, slow walking/difficulty walking, and stiffness in the body. It looks like visual hallucinations. It looks like a sleep disorder. It looks like depression, anxiety, agitation, delusion, paranoia. It looks like a change to one’s body’s ability to control blood pressure, temperature, and bladder and bowel function. Some of this is treatable and will help improve or sustain a quality of life, especially with an accurate and early diagnosis. Some medications may be prescribed to help with LBD, but some of those, many of those have their own risks.
And finally, as with all types of dementia, we need more doctors understanding and specializing in this area. We need more research. And we need more voices from those living with LBD to share their story, struggles, triumphs, sadness, and joy so that we as caregivers, neighbors, friends, and community members can learn, grow, and better support those with LBD and their direct caregivers.
One post cannot give you an adequate education on Lewy Body Dementia, and my goal here was simply to bring it to the table. I hope that you have a slightly better understanding of what LBD, and as we research and read more about the other forms of dementia, you can see how it is similar, and how differentiates itself. I have listed where you can find a much more eloquent and deeper description below. I invite you to take a look and further your education on Lewy Body Dementia.
Dementia with Lewy Bodies Symptoms| Signs, Symptoms, & Diagnosis. (n.d.). Retrieved June 02, 2017, from http://www.alz.org/dementia/dementia-with-lewy-bodies-symptoms.asp#about
Featured LBD Stories & Tributes. (n.d.). Retrieved June 02, 2017, from http://www.lbda.org/