The Misdiagnosed Dementia
Lewy Body dementia (LBD) is related to Parkinson and Alzheimer’s dementia. It is also known as dementia with lewy bodies. It is the second most common type of dementia. Alzheimer’s dementia is the most common type of dementia.
Lewy bodies are protein deposits that develop in the nerve cells in the brain regions. These regions of the brain are responsible for thinking, memory and movement. Lewy body dementia causes a slow decline in mental abilities.
People with Lewy body dementia may have:
- Visual hallucinations
- Experience changes in mood
- Difficulty concentrating
- Changes in alertness
- Those with Parkinson’s will have rigid muscles, tremors and slow movements
Lewy Body dementia is often misdiagnosed, or goes undiagnosed. Physicians can analyze symptoms and examine results of laboratory tests. These may lead to a diagnosis of LBD. Only an autopsy can provide definite evidence of this kind of dementia.
Who Gets LBD?
Doctors are not yet sure why some people develop LBD. Several risk factors are suspected .
- Being at least 60 years old
- More males than females get LBD
- Having a close family member with LBD
This kind of dementia has little to do with reduced blood flow to the brain. This is important, as the health of a person with LBD does not encourage the growth of protein clumps.
High cholesterol, diabetes and sugar levels and high blood pressure affect other dementias. This other health conditions promote progression of some dementias.
The usual life expectancy with LBD is about six to seven years following that diagnose. But this amount can be less if that person’s health is suffering one or more disorders.
Lewy Body Dementia versus Alzheimer’s Disease
Dementia with Lewy bodies results from the decreasing of quality of brian cells. Neurons release acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter. Acetylcholine handles motor control, muscle contraction and brain cell communication.
The ability to think in both Alzheimer’s and Lewy body dementia is caused by reduced levels of a chemical. Acetylcholine is the chemical in the brain. LBD attacks much of the cortical area of the brain. Alzheimer’s plaques and tangles target the hippocampal regions where memory is processed.
Symptoms overlap in the late stages of both diseases. This occurs when most areas of the brain have experienced massive cell death.
These are symptoms that can affect people with Alzheimer’s or LBD:
- Visual hallucinations
- Delusional thinking
- Severe memory
- Attention deficits
- Problems with fine motor tasks.
It has been revealed in autopsies that there is the presence of both dementias in some patients. Autopsies have observed neuron tangles found in Alzheimer’s, as well as the Lewy bodies clusters in cortical region of the brain.
Lewy Body Dementia in Parkinson’s Disease
People suffering from Parkinson’s disease may experience… abnormal build up of lewy bodies in the brain. Damage to inner brain structures produces the classic Parkinson’s symptoms of:
- Muscle tremors
- Shuffling instead of walking and slowness of movement. Destruction of other neurons decreases dopamine levels. Dopamine another important transmitter responsible to functions including motor ability, attention and learning.
Symptoms Specific to Lewy Body Dementia
LBD can cause dramatic fluctuations in thinking abilities and range of motion. Someone with this type of dementia may seem fairly normal and alert one day. Then appear significantly impaired the next day. They may have unpredictable behavioral changes. These changes may be triggered by:
- Schedule changes
- Environmental stress
- Physical injuries due to falling.
Later stages of LBD produce:
- Hallucinations and delusions that often provoke agitation
- And depression. This makes it difficult for both patient and caregiver to cope with the disease.
Lewy Body Dementia Medication
Medications to treat Parkinson’s with Lewy Body dementia,
is challenging. Medications that address the muscle stiffness of Parkinson’s tend to aggravate behaviors. Many experience increase in psychotic symptoms
On the other hand, the medications to treat the psychotic behaviors such as :
- and Delusional thinking actually can… increase the tremors and muscle stiffness associated with Parkinson’s.
Donepezil, is a medication sometimes used for Alzheimer’s. This medication seems to relieve LBD symptoms more than Alzheimer’s symptoms.
Donepezil improves attention and memory. As well as ,the ability to do some everyday tasks. Donepezil does not help with psychotic symptoms of Parkinson’s. It does all those suffering from Lewy Bodies dementia to think clearer.
a muscle relaxant
It is often prescribed for rapid eye movement sleep disorder. This is a condition associated with LBD. During the rapid eye movement stage of sleep, people experience their most vivid dreaming. But usually remain asleep, no matter how active the dreams are.
People whose brains are clogged with LBDs cannot stay still while dreaming. The body normally releases chemicals the calm the muscles during dreams. These chemicals are lacking in LBD. this causes a person to twitch violently. Some suffer terrible injuries from falls from the bed because of this disorder.
Drugs to Avoid With Lewy Body Dementia
Dementia Training for Caregivers
Tips to enhance the well-being of the caregiver include:
- Do not feel guilty if you need a break. Take advantage of respite care. Reward yourself with enjoyable activities and reconnecting with friends and family.
- Depression is serious and debilitating. Do not hesitate to get professional help if you start feeling sad, angry or hopeless all the time
- Thoroughly educate yourself about dementia to understand what your loved one is experiencing
- Do not neglect your physical and mental health. Exercise regularly, eat health food and take the time to socialize
Numerous dementia resources and support services are available on the Internet to provide caregivers with valuable information concerning Lewy Body dementia treatment plans. Some of these include the Lewy Body Dementia Association, Alzheimer’s Association and the Family Caregiver Alliance.
Our Resources section can help you find the information and tools that you need. We have courses, videos, checklists, guidebooks, cheat sheets, how-to guides and more.
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