People often incorrectly use the terms Alzheimer’s and dementia interchangeably. In fact, Alzheimer’s is just one type of dementia. While Alzheimer’s accounts for the majority of dementia diagnoses, there are others. One of these is Lewy body dementia (LBD).
According to the Lewy Body Dementia Association, nearly 1.4 million people in this country live with LBD. Until the death of the popular comedian and actor Robin Williams from depression related to LBD, probably few people had ever heard of it.
Let’s first explore what LBD is and then discuss how it impacts people’s lives.
Lewy body dementia is an umbrella term that includes both Parkinson’s dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies. It is named for Dr. Friedrich Lewy, a neurologist who is credited with discovering the disease while conducting research on Parkinson’s.
The progressive brain disorder causes abnormal protein deposits to build up in the brain. The result is damage to parts of the brain responsible for thought, movement, behavior, memory, and sleep. Some bodily functions, such as bowel and bladder control and blood pressure, are also impacted.
The symptoms of LBD are sometimes attributed to stress or aging. Because physicians aren’t always familiar with LBD, people in the early stages may be misdiagnosed. Some of the most common symptoms of LBD include:
As is true of many forms of dementia, there is no current cure for LBD. This means health care professionals must rely on palliative forms of treatment to address and manage symptoms of the disease. These treatments include:
As with people with other forms of dementia, it can be difficult to care for a loved one with LBD at home. If you are struggling to safely care for a family member with LBD, a memory care community might be the optimum solution. Dementia care teams at these communities are experts at helping residents live their best quality of life despite the disease.
An experienced Senior Care Advisor can help you explore your local options and find one that best meets your needs. Call 888-514-6461 to speak to an advisor for free!