Lewy Body Dementia has been in the spotlight recently with the news that Robin Williams had this common disease. Lewy Body Dementia or LBD, affects more than 1.4 million people in the US and is one of the most common forms of dementia. LBD is often misdiagnosed as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease.
Symptoms of Lewy Body Dementia
LBD can be difficult to diagnose early and many practitioners are still unfamiliar with the disease. This leads to a large number of under-diagnosis and mismanagement of medications and treatments that may be prescribed for Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s instead. In the early stages, memory impairment may not be that noticeable and can easily be masked. Memory issues can easily change from day to day also making it hard for practitioners to establish a diagnosis. People with LBD can have trouble sleeping and will often experience hallucinations.
The diagnosis of Lewy Body Dementia is often confirmed after death. LBD is indicated by protien deposits on the nerve cells of the brain. An excellent resource for caregivers is the Lewey Body Demenita Association. They offer a Lewy Body Dementia symptom checklist for patients, caregivers, and physicians and it is an excellent tool to start with if you or a loved one has concerns about the disease.
Is there a cure?
The short answer is “No”. But, the symptoms of LBD are treatable. There are medications to treat the symptoms of the cognitive, behavioral, and movement problems that can accompany LBD. Early diagnosis is the key because people with LBD can react differently to certain medications that are prescribed for Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease. These medications can cause severe reactions in people with LBD and can sometimes be fatal. Early diagnosis can also allow for other changes and modifications that can improve the quality of life for people with LBD. Changes in diet, sleep habits, routine, and medications may allow for someone with LBD and their caregivers to effectively manage the symptoms and changes that take place with LBD.