What is Lewy Body Dementia?

May 27, 2021 Dementia Care

What is Lewy Body Dementia?

There are over 400 different types of dementia. Following Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia is Lewy body dementia. Experts believe that this form of the disease accounts for 10 to 15 percent of all dementia cases. Similar to other forms of dementia, LBD is a developing brain disorder.

What is Lewy Body Dementia?

Lewy body dementia is a form of dementia that occurs when an abnormal amount of protein is built up in specific areas of the brain. This can have a major effect on your behaviour, thinking, alertness and visual perception. The abnormal deposits of protein that build up are called alpha-synuclein, these deposits are known as Lewy bodies.

Diagnosing Lewy Body Dementia can be extremely difficult as its symptoms are very similar to other brain diseases. Within a year of being diagnosed with LBD, patients may start to have memory and thinking problems, changes in behaviour and hallucinations, symptoms similar to those with Alzheimer’s disease.

There are 7 stages in Lewy Body Dementia:

  • Stage 1- Normal. In this phase, patients have no symptoms. However, it is sometimes common to develop hallucinations and mood fluctuations at this time. MRI and CT scans can occasionally show incidental findings during routine examinations.

 

  • Stage 2- Mild symptoms presented. Minor changes may be visible in the patient’s behaviour or daily activities but nothing extreme. At this stage, mild forgetfulness is common, such as forgetting names and misplacing things.

 

  • Stage 3 – Mild symptoms progress. At this stage, symptoms may include, mild memory loss, mild forgetfulness, increased risk of falls and difficulty completing daily tasks.

 

  • Stage 4 – At this stage patients normally have a confirmed diagnosis. Symptoms are moderate and they include, life-disrupting forgetfulness, difficulty performing daily tasks, may experience tremors and difficulty speaking as well as difficulty swallowing, aggressive drooling and choking.

 

  • Stage 5 – Patients symptoms at this point are usually moderately severe. Significant confusion, disorientation and may no longer be able to live alone. Fever is common and patients are at a much higher risk of infection. It is most likely that 24-hour supervision is required at this stage.

 

  • Stage 6 – Severity of patient’s symptoms is increased. This usually lasts for 2.5 years. Patients usually lose their ability to speak and also urine and bowel incontinence is common. A high level of support is required for comfortable living.

 

  • Stage 7 – Symptoms become very severe at this point. Communication is extremely limited in this final stage. Patients are unable to walk and require extensive assistance with living and often need round-the-clock support.

 

How is Lewy body dementia treated?

Research is ongoing to find a drug that may stop or reverse Lewy body dementia as there is currently no cure. Patients are given medication to relieve symptoms, the most common drugs prescribed are Exelon, Aricept and Reminyl. There are some benefits to these such as decreased hallucinations and confusion. Common side effects include being sick, tiredness and diarrhea.

Other forms are prescribed such as Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors. The function of this particular drug is to increase the levels of acetylcholine, a chemical in the brain, improving the ability of brain cells to signal each other. Antidepressants are usually prescribed also to control and manage mood fluctuations.

There are many forms of therapy patients are recommended. Speech therapy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy and some others all contribute to the management of LBD to make your life much easier whilst living with this disease.

Lewy body dementia for most people is usually a progressive fatal disease. LBD develops and gets worse over time and it can shorten lifespans. Following diagnosis patient’s lifespan can be from 8 to 12 years, however, this can vary and some people exceed expectations and live a much longer life with proper care and treatment.

How can Cavendish Homecare help?

At Cavendish Homecare we have a team of Homecare Managers, Registered Nurses, and carers with a wealth of experience and experts that can provide practical and emotional support and care. We understand that this is such a sensitive time, having trustworthy support can make a huge difference with learning to live with dementia.

If you would like to enquire about our Dementia Care, contact us on, 02030085210 or email us at info@cavendishhomecare.com