Lewy body dementia, the second most common type of progressive dementia after Alzheimer's disease, causes a progressive decline in mental abilities. It may also cause visual hallucinations, which generally take the form of objects, people or animals that aren't there. This can lead to unusual behavior such as having conversations with deceased loved ones.
Another indicator of Lewy body dementia may be significant fluctuations in alertness and attention, which may include daytime drowsiness or periods of staring into space. And like Parkinson's disease, Lewy body dementia can result in rigid muscles, slowed movement and tremors.
Lewy body dementia signs and symptoms include:
Visual hallucinations: they may see visual hallucinations, such as colors, shapes, animals or people that aren't there. This can lead to unusual behavior fluctuations in alertness and attention, which may include daytime drowsiness or periods of staring into space. And, like Parkinson's disease , Lewy body dementia may be significant fluctuations in alertness and attention, which may include daytime drowsiness or periods of staring into space. And, like Parkinson's disease, Lewy body dementia can result in rigid muscles, slowed movement and tremors.
In Lewy body dementia, protein deposits, called Lewy bodies, develop in nerve cells in regions of your brain involved in thinking, memory and movement (motor control).
Signs and Symptoms:
Visual hallucinations: they may see visual hallucinations, such as colors, shapes, animals, or people that aren't there. Hallucinations may be one of the first symptoms of Lewy body dementia. Some people also may experience sound (auditory), smell ( olfactory) or touch (tactile) hallucinations.
Movement Disorders: they may experience symptoms similar to those of Parkinson's disease (parkinsonian symptoms), such as slowed movement, rigid muscles, tremors or a shuffling walk.
Poor Regulations of body functions: Blood pressure, pulse, sweating and digestive process are regulated by a part of the nervous system that is often affected by Lewy body dementia. This can result in dizziness, falls and bowel issues.
Cognitive problems: they may experience thinking (cognitive) problems similar to problems experience in Alzheimer's disease, such as confusion, reduced attention span and eventually memory loss.
Sleep difficulties: they may a sleep disorder called raid movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder that can cause you to physically act our your dreams while you're asleep.
Fluctuating attention: they may have frequent episodes of drowsiness, long periods of staring into space, long naps during the day or disorganized speech.
Depression: they may experience depression sometime during the course of their illness.
The cause of Lewy body dementia isn't known, but the disorder may be related to Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease.
- Lewy bodies contain a protein associated with Parkinson's disease.
- Lewy bodies often are present in the brains of people with Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease and other dementias.
- People who have Lewy bodies bodies in their brains also have the plaques and tangles associated with Alzheimer's disease.
Although the cause of Lewy body dementia isn't clear, several factors appear to increase the risk of developing the disease. They include:
- Being older than 60
- Being male
- Having a family member with Lewy body dementia
Lewy body dementia is progresive. Signs and symptoms worsen, causing:
- Severe dementia
- Death, on average about eight years after onset of the condition
You'll probably first bring your symptoms to the attention of your family doctor, who may refer you to a doctor trained in dementia - usually a doctor trained in brain and nervous system conditions (neurologist) or mental health conditions (psychiatrist). Because appointments can brief, and because there is often a lot to talk about, it's a good idea to be well prepared for your appointment.
As this disease progresses, it might be necessary to move your loved one into an assisted living facility with an Alzheimer's wing just like Bel Aire Senior Living in American Fork, UT.
If you would like to learn more about how to care for a loved one with Lewy body dementia come and talk to us. We provide a monthly Alzheimer's & Dementia Support Group that is designed to provide emotional, educational and social support for caregivers through regularly scheduled meetings. The meetings in person are held at Bel Aire Senior Living, 1088 East 390 South, American Fork, UT 84003 every 2nd Tuesday of each month from 4:00 - 5:00 p.m. We also provide free respite care for your loved one in our facility while you are in the meeting to make things as easy as possible for you.