What Is Lewy Body Dementia?

Sunrise Senior Living  |  January 11, 2019
What Is Lewy Body Dementia?
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When the topic of dementia is raised, most people think of Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s does account for the majority of cases of dementia, but other types can also be life-altering for older adults and their families. One of them is Lewy body dementia (LBD).

While this type of dementia isn’t well-known, actor Robin Williams’s death helped shine a spotlight on LBD.

What Is Lewy Body Dementia?                               

LBD is an umbrella term that encompasses two clinical diagnoses: Parkinson’s dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies. The disease is named after noted scientist Dr. Friedrich Lewy. He is credited with discovering LBD while researching Parkinson’s.

A progressive brain disorder that causes abnormal deposits of protein to build up in the brain, LBD impacts all areas of an adult’s life. It impairs parts of the brain responsible for thought, movement, behavior, memory, and sleep.

The disease also impairs bodily functions such as bowel and bladder control, blood pressure, and more.

According to the Lewy Body Dementia Association, an estimated 1.4 million people in the US live with this form of dementia. Because physicians aren’t always knowledgeable about LBD, it is sometimes misdiagnosed.

Symptoms of Lewy Body Dementia

A few of the most common symptoms of LBD include:

  • Hallucinations and delusions
  • Tremors and shaking
  • Memory loss and forgetfulness
  • Problems with abstract thought
  • Sluggishness and decreased attention span
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Difficulty walking and moving
  • Sleep problems

Lewy Body Treatment Options

Since there is currently no cure for LBD, healthcare professionals focus on using palliative measures to treat the symptoms of the disease. That often means:

  • Creating a care plan that includes physical, occupational, and speech therapy
  • Working with a sleep disorder specialist to find ways to improve the quantity and quality of a patient’s sleep
  • Using pharmacological interventions to help prevent or manage hallucinations

Lewy Body Dementia Clinical Trials

Families often explore the idea of a clinical trial when a senior loved one is diagnosed with some form of dementia. It may not directly lead to discovering new forms of treatment or a cure, but participating in a clinical trial can still help researchers.

For those with Lewy body dementia, the Research Center of Excellence (RCOE) is the place to turn to for trials and support. RCOE is a network of some of the country’s most prestigious medical research centers.

If you would like to learn more about ongoing clinical trials and trials seeking participants near you or a loved one, visit the Lewy Body Dementia Association website.

Dementia Care at Sunrise Senior Living

Managing a loved one’s care at home is an enormous undertaking. Spouses and adult children sometimes need a short-term respite care option or a long-term memory care community for their loved one. Sunrise Senior Living can help with both.

Please call us at 888-434-4648 to learn more!

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