What Other Things Help
There are various ways to help a person with DLB. Speech therapy may help improve communication between people with DLB and others. Physical therapy may help strengthen and stretch stiff muscles and help to prevent falls.
Research has shown that physical exercise helps to enhance brain health and improves mood and general fitness. A balanced diet, enough sleep, and limited alcohol intake are other important ways to promote good brain health. Other illnesses that affect the brain, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, should also be treated if present.
Understand Behavioral Changes In Lewy Body Dementia
Behavioral and mood problems in people with LBD can arise from hallucinations, delusions, pain, illness, stress, or anxiety. They may also be the result of frustration, fear, or feeling overwhelmed. The person may resist care or lash out verbally or physically.
Hallucinations and delusions are among the biggest challenges for LBD caregivers. The person with LBD may not understand or accept that the hallucinations are not real and may become agitated or anxious. Instead of arguing, caregivers can help by responding to the fears expressed. By tuning in to the person’s emotions, caregivers can offer empathy and concern, maintain the person’s dignity, and limit further tension.
Caregivers can try a variety of strategies to handle such challenging behaviors. Some behavioral problems can be managed by making changes in the person’s environment and/or treating medical conditions. Other problems may require medication.
Itâs also common for people with LBD to have difficulty falling asleep. Certain sleep problems can be addressed without medications. Increasing daytime exercise or activities and avoiding lengthy or frequent naps can promote better sleep. Avoiding alcohol, caffeine, or chocolate late in the day can help, too. Some over-the-counter medications can also affect sleep, so review all medications and supplements with a physician.
Coping With Cognitive Changes
Some medications used to treat Alzheimer’s disease also may be used to treat the cognitive symptoms of LBD. These drugs, called cholinesterase inhibitors, act on a chemical in the brain that is important for memory and thinking. They may also improve hallucinations, apathy, and delusions. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved one Alzheimer’s drug, rivastigmine, to treat cognitive symptoms in Parkinson’s disease dementia. Several other drugs are being tested as possible treatments for LBD symptoms or to disrupt the underlying disease process.
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What Are Parkinsons Disease Dementia And Lewy Body Dementia
Parkinsons disease is a progressive, degenerative neurological movement disorder that affects approximately 7 million people worldwide. It is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder after Alzheimer’s disease.
Up to 80% of Parkinsons disease patients will develop Parkinsons disease dementia that is characterized by a progressive loss of memory and decline in intellectual abilities.
About 15% of Parkinsons disease diagnoses include so-called Parkinsons plus syndromes. One of these syndromes is Lewy body dementia , also known as dementia with Lewy bodies , a form of progressive dementia accounting for 20% of dementias in people over the age of 65.
What Is The Prognosis Of Lewy Body Dementia
The prognosis of LBD is generally fair to poor because it gets worse over time.
People with LBD can die from several different complications, such as:
- Swallowing issues.
- Depression leading to suicide
- Reactions to first-generation antipsychotic medications used to treat and manage symptoms of many psychiatric disorders, such as neuroleptic malignant syndrome.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with LBD, its important to learn about the condition and all the medications and therapies that can help you be as comfortable and safe as possible.
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The Link To Parkinsons Disease
Most people with Parkinsons disease have Lewy bodies in their brains. Its these clusters that cause some or all of the motor symptoms of Parkinsons disease, as well as memory or cognitive problems, visual hallucinations, and problems with alertness.
We rarely know if a living patient has Lewy bodies with certainty, however. Its not until an autopsy that they can be seen, says Liana Rosenthal, M.D., assistant professor of neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. If we see Lewy bodies in someones brain during an autopsy, thats considered a pathologic certainty of Parkinsons disease, she says.
As with Parkinsons, Lewy body dementia is associated with a depletion of certain neurotransmitters in the brain. These are:
- Dopamine: This neurotransmitter helps transmit signals that control muscle movement. When the accumulation of Lewy bodies blocks dopamines production and transmission, the result is the hallmark movement issues of Parkinsons disease.
- Acetylcholine: This neurotransmitter does its work in the parts of the brain responsible for memory, thinking and processing. When Lewy bodies build up in these areas, they interfere with acetylcholine, causing symptoms of dementia.
What Is The Long
The prognosis is different for each person and may be affected by your general health or the existence of unrelated illnesses. Because LBD progresses at varying rates for each individual, it is not possible to determine how long someone may live with the disease. A person may live as long as 20 years or as short as 2 years after onset of obvious LBD symptoms. Research suggests most people live five to eight years with LBD.
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How Is Parkinsons Disease Dementia Diagnosed
No single test can diagnose Parkinsons disease dementia. Instead, doctors rely on a series or combination of tests and indicators.
Your neurologist will likely diagnose you with Parkinsons and then track your progression. They may monitor you for signs of dementia. As you get older, your risk for Parkinsons dementia increases.
Your doctor is more likely to conduct regular testing to monitor your cognitive functions, memory recall, and mental health.
Diagnostic Criteria For Dementia With Lewy Bodies
The consensus criteria for a clinical diagnosis of DLB reflect the clinical features described previously in this article . Progressive cognitive decline to dementia is required, often involving attention, executive function, and visual-spatial skills. The core features of these criteria include the following: recurrent visual hallucinations that are well formed and detailed fluctuations in attention and alertness and parkinsonian motor signs. Supportive features, also common in PD, include the presence of REM sleep behavior disorder, severe neuroleptic sensitivity, or low DAT uptake in the basal ganglia on SPECT or PET. A diagnosis of clinically probable DLB requires at least two out of three of the core features to be present or one core feature and one supportive feature. A diagnosis of clinically possible DLB requires only one of the three core features to be present.
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Diagnosis Of Parkinsons Disease
There are currently no blood or laboratory tests to diagnose non-genetic cases of Parkinsons. Doctors usually diagnose the disease by taking a persons medical history and performing a neurological examination. If symptoms improve after starting to take medication, its another indicator that the person has Parkinsons.
A number of disorders can cause symptoms similar to those of Parkinsons disease. People with Parkinsons-like symptoms that result from other causes, such as multiple system atrophy and dementia with Lewy bodies, are sometimes said to have parkinsonism. While these disorders initially may be misdiagnosed as Parkinsons, certain medical tests, as well as response to drug treatment, may help to better evaluate the cause. Many other diseases have similar features but require different treatments, so it is important to get an accurate diagnosis as soon as possible.
Memory And Thinking Problems
You may experience forgetfulness, slowed thinking and difficulty concentrating. You might find it harder to follow conversations, and remember some words and names. This can make communication difficult.
You may also find it increasingly difficult to make decisions, plan activities and solve problems. This can make everyday activities harder.
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Behaviors Seen In Parkinsons Disease Dementia
As dementia progresses, managing disorientation, confusion, agitation, and impulsivity can be a key component of care.
Some patients experience hallucinations or delusions as a complication of Parkinsons disease. These may be frightening and debilitating. Approximately 50 percent of those with the disease may experience them.
The best thing to do when giving care to someone experiencing hallucinations or delusions from Parkinsons disease dementia is to keep them calm and reduce their stress.
Take note of their symptoms and what they were doing before they exhibited signs of hallucinating and then let their doctor know.
This element of the disease can be particularly challenging for caregivers. Patients may become unable to care for themselves or be left alone.
Some ways to make caregiving easier include:
- sticking to a normal routine whenever possible
- being extra comforting after any medical procedures
- limiting distractions
- using curtains, nightlights, and clocks to help stick to a regular sleep schedule
- remembering that the behaviors are a factor of the disease and not the person
What Causes Parkinsons Disease Dementia
A chemical messenger in the brain called dopamine helps control and coordinate muscle movement. Over time, Parkinsons disease destroys the nerve cells that make dopamine.
Without this chemical messenger, the nerve cells cant properly relay instructions to the body. This causes a loss of muscle function and coordination. Researchers dont know why these brain cells disappear.
Parkinsons disease also causes dramatic changes in a part of your brain that controls movement.
Those with Parkinsons disease often experience motor symptoms as a preliminary sign of the condition. Tremors are one of the most common first symptoms of Parkinsons disease.
As the disease progresses and spreads in your brain, it can affect the parts of your brain responsible for mental functions, memory, and judgment.
Over time, your brain may not be able to use these areas as efficiently as it once did. As a result, you may begin experiencing symptoms of Parkinsons disease dementia.
You have an increased risk of developing Parkinsons disease dementia if:
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Treatment And Care For Lewy Body Dementia
While LBD currently cannot be prevented or cured, some symptoms may respond to treatment for a period of time. An LBD treatment plan may involve medications, physical and other types of therapy, and counseling. A plan to make any home safety updates and identify any equipment can make everyday tasks easier.
A skilled care team often can suggest ways to improve quality of life for both people with LBD and their caregivers.
Epidemiology And Natural History Of Dlb And Pdd
Approximately 12% of those aged above 65 years are diagnosed with DLB worldwide , affecting approximately 5% of all dementia cases in those over the age of 75 . Its incidence is 0.71.4 new cases/100,000 person-years or 3.5/100,000 person-years . For PDD, the cumulative prevalence is of 75% of PD patients surviving more than 10 years , 83% after 20 years , and up to 95% by age 90 years , with an overall prevalence of 31.1% and incidence rates from 0.43 to 1.13/100,000 person-years , indicating that, annually, approximately 10% of a PD population will develop dementia . The data concerning age at disease or dementia onset are highly variable. Whereas in the Olmsted County study DLB patients were younger at symptom onset than those with PDD and had more hallucinations and cognitive fluctuations, others have reported younger age at disease onset in PDD , or no essential differences between disorders .
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What Are The Symptoms Of These Diseases
The main symptoms of Parkinson’s disease involve motor control, such as tremor , slowness of movement, stiffness of the limbs and trunk as well as postural instability. Many patients develop a decline in thinking and reasoning known as Parkinsons disease dementia if it occurs more than one year after the initial diagnosis of Parkinsons disease. Common symptoms for PDD include decline in memory, concentration and judgment, visual hallucinations, depression, irritability, and anxiety.
The central feature of Lewy body dementia is progressive cognitive decline, combined with pronounced fluctuations in alertness and attention, complex visual hallucinations, and motor symptoms such as rigidity and the loss of spontaneous movement. It can easily be mistaken for Alzheimers disease or for Parkinsons disease dementia .
What Is The Life Expectancy For People With Lewy Body Dementia
The average life expectancy of Lewy body dementia is five to eight years after the initial diagnosis. But some people with LBD live up to 20 years after their diagnosis.
This short average life expectancy could be due to a lack of knowledge regarding LBD among healthcare providers and the population and difficulty in distinguishing it from other similar conditions. This often leads to a delay in diagnosis, which delays the onset of specific therapy.
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Diagnosing Lewy Body Dementia: For Professionals
Lewy body dementia can be difficult to diagnose. Talking to both patients and caregivers helps doctors make a diagnosis. It is important to ask the patient and their care partners about any symptoms involving thinking, movement, sleep, behavior, or mood. Certain medications can worsen LBD symptoms be aware of all current medications and supplements the patient is taking.
Dementia with Lewy bodies is often hard to diagnose because its early symptoms may resemble those of Alzheimer’s disease or a psychiatric illness. As a result, it is often misdiagnosed or missed altogether. As additional symptoms appear, making an accurate diagnosis may become easier.
The good news is that doctors are increasingly able to diagnose LBD earlier and more accurately, as researchers identify which symptoms and biomarkers help distinguish it from similar disorders.
Visiting a family doctor is often the first step for people who are experiencing changes in thinking, movement, or behavior. If a persons primary doctor is not familiar with LBD, they may have patients seek second opinions from specialists, like a geriatric psychiatrist, neuropsychologist, or a geriatrician to help diagnose LBD. If a specialist cannot be found in your community, ask the neurology department at a nearby medical school for a referral. Neurologists generally have the expertise needed to diagnose LBD.
Difficult as it is, getting an accurate diagnosis of LBD early on is important so that a person:
What Are Pd Dementia Safety Concerns
Safety issues should be considered and monitored from the time of diagnosis. As PDD progresses, ensure that your loved one is not left alone.
- Evaluate driving privileges before safety is a concern. Your doctor can make a driving evaluation referral.
- Work out legal and financial issues and safeguard finances. People with dementia are at greater risk of falling victim to scams and fraud.
- Minimize prescription risks. Confirm with the doctor the medication names and doses of the person with PD. If the person is in dementias early stages and capable, fill up their weekly pill box together and monitor use.
- Medical alert systems can be critical in case your loved one falls or wanders outside of the home. Many types of systems are available, from bracelets and pendants to smart watches with fall detection and one-button connections to 911.
- Evaluate gun safety. If your loved one owns a firearm or has one in the home, consider speaking with their doctor about the subject and taking appropriate safety precautions.
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The Presence Of Lewy Bodies
LBD is characterized by the presence of Lewy bodies in the nerve cells of the brain, meaning that LBD patients have Lewy bodies in the brain. However, Lewy bodies are also common with other conditions, such as Alzheimers and Parkinsons disease.2
In fact, most people with PD also have Lewy bodies in their brain. However, even if they have Lewy bodies, not all Parkinsons patients will also develop LBD.2
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Lewy Body Dementia Symptoms
Symptoms of LBD can fluctuate but usually become progressively worse over time. Early in the disease, fluctuations between normal and abnormal behavior, mood, and cognitive ability can occur. The central feature of this disease is progressive dementia shown by deficits in attention and minor dysfunctions in the early stages that can progress to severe dementia.
In severe dementia, the persons inability to carry out normal daily functions, loss of recognition of family members, and other severe cognitive, behavior and mood problems can render the individual virtually helpless. Other features include fluctuating cognition, visual hallucinations, and spontaneous features of Parkinsonism such as body stiffness, tremors, shuffling gait, emotionless facial features and/or decreased coordination.
As mentioned previously, the diagnosis is made on the basis of symptoms and their time of occurrence in patients. However, most doctors that make the diagnosis also typically use other tests primarily to rule out other causes for the symptoms.
There are no sensitive or specific blood or urine tests that diagnose LBD. However, routine laboratory tests such as a basic metabolic panel, CBC, thyroid studies, vitamin B12 levels and tests for syphilis, Lyme disease, or HIV also may be ordered. MRI, CT scans, and other studies of the brain are used to help distinguish LBD from other problems that have similar symptoms.
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Diagnosis: Parkinson’s Dementia Or Dementia With Lewy Bodies
During assessment, a specialist may look at when the dementia symptoms first appeared before reaching a diagnosis of Parkinson’s dementia or dementia with Lewy bodies.
If there have been motor symptoms for at least one year before dementia symptoms occur, specialists will often give a diagnosis of Parkinson’s dementia.
If dementia symptoms occur before or at the same time as motor symptoms, specialists will usually give a diagnosis of dementia with Lewy bodies.
However, it should be noted that in some cases of dementia with Lewy bodies, no motor symptoms develop at all.
Theres no single test – diagnosis is made through several different assessments, usually starting with an appointment with your GP or Parkinson’s nurse.
Some people find it helps to go to the appointment with someone who knows them well, who can give the GP or Parkinson’s nurse information about changes they’ve noticed.
Your GP can discuss your symptoms with you and carry out a physical examination, including blood and urine tests, to rule out other potential causes of the symptoms .
Your GP may also review your medication, in case your symptoms are side effects.
If your GP thinks you have dementia, they can refer you to a specialist, such as a neurologist, psychiatrist or geriatrician.
You might be referred to a memory clinic or memory service. In some areas of the country, you can refer yourself to these services.
But if you feel you need to see the specialist again, you can ask to be referred back.