Lewy bodies are abnormal collections of protein that develop inside nerve cells and affect chemicals in the brain, which can lead to difficulty with thinking, movement, mood, and behavior. Experts estimate dementia with Lewy bodies is the third most common form of dementia after Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia, accounting for 10 to 25 percent of all dementia cases. If you are the primary caregiver in Summit for a senior loved one and are concerned about the possibility of a Lewy body dementia diagnosis, here are some important things you should know about this serious condition.
1. It Causes Hallucinations
Lewy body dementia causes visual hallucinations that make it different from other types of dementia disorders. If your loved one has Lewy body dementia, he or she will see objects and shapes that are not actually there. Your loved one may also see inaccurate colors. The hallucinations are often so complex they can lead a senior to have conversations with deceased family members and friends.
2. Its Symptoms Can Be Unpredictable
One of the biggest challenges when providing Summit elder care for a senior with Lewy body dementia involves managing its symptoms. The symptoms are erratic and can last for a few minutes or even a few days. Due to this fluctuation, it is not possible for doctors to determine how much the disorder has progressed. However, if a particular symptom is treatable, your loved one could return to his or her normal level of functioning.
3. It Is Difficult to Diagnose
More than 1.3 million people within the United States have been diagnosed with Lewy body dementia. However, there is no true way for doctors to diagnose this disorder. Instead, they diagnose Lewy body dementia by ruling out other conditions with similar symptoms. Your loved one’s doctors will perform a neurological and physical examination to test his or her reflexes, balance, sense of touch, and eye movements. A sleep evaluation may also be accessed to look for blood pressure and heart rate instability.
4. Its Symptoms Are Treatable
Although there is no cure for Lewy body dementia, the symptoms can be treated. Some forms of treatment include psychotherapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy. Another way your loved one’s doctor can ease the symptoms associated with this disorder is through prescribed medications. These medications can offer your loved one relief for his or her behavioral, cognitive, and movement difficulties.
5. It Isn’t the Same as Alzheimer’s Disease
Although Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia, it is not the same as Lewy body dementia. One of the main differences between these two disorders is the unpredictable change in cognition Lewy body dementia causes. People with Alzheimer’s tend to have these issues when the sun goes down, but the cognitive changes associated with Lewy body dementia can occur regardless of the time of day. Another difference between the two is seniors with Alzheimer’s have more difficulty with memory loss or performing normal tasks. However, those with Lewy body dementia have more movement and hallucination issues.
If your loved one has been diagnosed with Lewy body dementia and needs help maintaining a good quality of life, a Summit dementia caregiver can help. At Home Care Assistance, our caregivers can help with mental stimulation, mobility, and much more. At no additional cost, our caregivers use the revolutionary Cognitive Therapeutics Method, an activities-based program designed to slow cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia. For more information on our senior home care services, call one of our experienced Care Managers at 908.450.9400.