Lewy Body Dementia

What is Lewy Body Dementia?

Lewy body dementia is a progressive brain disorder in older adults. LBD is not a rare disease. It accounts for up to 20% of dementia cases and affects an estimated 1.3 million families in the U.S. alone.

LBD is challenging to diagnose, because symptom onset and combinations vary. Early and accurate diagnosis is important, because people with LBD often have extreme sensitivity to certain prescription and over-the-counter medications.

If someone you know is experiencing these changes, they might have LBD:

Thinking & Behavior

  • Dementia is the primary symptom and includes problems with memory, problem solving, planning, and abstract or analytical thinking.
  • Cognitive fluctuations involve unpredictable changes in concentration andattention from day to day.
  • Hallucinations are seeing or hearing things that are not really present.
  • Other mood disorders and psychiatric symptoms such as depression, delusions (false beliefs), or hallucinations in other senses, like touch or smell.

Movement

  • Parkinson’s-like symptoms include rigidity or stiffness, shuffling gait, tremor and slowness of movement.
  • Repeated falls attributed to dizziness, fainting, or the effects of parkinsonism on posture & balance.
  • Previous diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, followed a year or more later by decline in cognitive abilities that interfere with every day living. (Parkinson’sdisease dementia is one clinical presentation of Lewy body dementia.)

Sleep & Other Systems

  • Acting out dreams, sometimes violently. May appear years before any changes in cognition.
  • Severe sensitivity to neuroleptics (also known as antipsychotics), which are medications used to treat hallucinations or other serious mental disorders.
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness or transient loss of consciousness.
  • Significant changes in the autonomic nervous system, such as dizziness, fainting, sensitivity to heat & cold, sexual dysfunction, early urinary incontinence, or constipation.

 

Help is available! Visit lbda.org to learn more!