Lewy body dementia is a disease that affects the elderly. It is not well known like Alzheimer’s or some other mental disorders that affect geriatric patients. However, Lewy Body Dementia is the second largest cause of dementia in the elderly according to their association. This problem is commonly misdiagnosed due to the fact that it has several symptoms that are very similar to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease.
The dementia got its name due to that fact that scientists found lewy bodies or small protein deposits in the brain of people with dementia. These bodies are abnormal in nature and cause a slow deterioration of brain tissue and function. People with this disease start to lose their mental function just like those who have Alzheimers disease. The symptoms include things such as forgetting things, having difficulty in following simple directions, having notable changes in behavior such as becoming confused easily or angering quickly, and even losing some ability to speak temporarily.
The differences between Lewy Body Dementia and Alzheimer’s are the person starts to have audible and visual hallucinations very early on in the disease process. Alzheimer’s patients rarely have such hallucinations in the early days of their disease process. They also react very poorly to the administration of antipsychotic medication. This is a tell tale sign that a person has lewy body dementia as opposed to Alzheimer’s. This disease tends to fluctuate as far as symptoms on a daily basis. Symptoms may worsen or get better in a very short amount of time.
Lewy body dementia patients will display symptoms such as loss of balance and falling repeatedly, becoming more confused and having a very short attention span. They will have increasing problems with getting through the tasks needed for adult daily living such as dressing themselves and remembering to eat on a regular basis. In addition to the hallucinations they will have problems with sleeping, may have repeated bouts of insomnia or may even try to act out their dreams or hallucinations. There are some emotional effects of this disease as well which include periods of depression and even delusions.
People who have lewy body dementia have physical symptoms that mimic that of Parkinson’s Disease. Some of these symptoms include tremors, muscle stiffness, a stooped posture, a shuffling gait, restless leg syndrome, difficulties with balance, and extremely slow movements. Since these symptoms are so similar this leads to a lot of misdiagnosis of this disease.
It is unfortunate that there is no cure for this disease and the only treatment for it is to try to treat the symptoms. This can include making a lot of lifestyle changes in order to make the effects of the disease as tolerable as possible. This disease can progress quickly and become severe in a very short amount of time. This can make independent living a very trying thing for someone who has this disease or dementia.
People with this disease or family members of a person with lewy body dementia should educate themselves as much as they possibly can in order to be able to handle the changes that are coming with this disorder. Finding a specialist that is familiar with all three of the diseases that have been discussed here would be very beneficial so a person who has any of these symptoms could be diagnosed properly and treated as such.
This dementia is progressive and will take a very thorough evaluation and treatment plan in order to treat properly. Family members should work closely with medical personnel to make sure their loved ones are treated with dignity and respect and with all of the knowledge that is needed to combat this illness.
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