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Lewy Body Dementia is Different than Alzheimer's

- Thursday, February 21, 2013

The second most common type of dementia is known as Lewy body dementia, or LBD. It is the most commonly misdiagnosed class of dementia.

Many caregivers have loved ones with this disease and come upon confusion in the medical profession.

There are many different types of dementia that need to be addressed. Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia, and it may be getting thrown out there a little too quickly.

Nearly 80% of those with LBD have initially been diagnosed with a different type of cognitive impairment. Many who are currently diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's disease may later find it changed to LBD.

Dissimilar characteristics of dementia need to be treated differently. This is why an early and correct diagnosis is so important.

LBD may be the worst of all types of dementia. This because the visual hallucinations alone are so very profound.

Other symptoms (but not all) of LBD are:

  • Movement disorders, very similar to Parkinson's disease.
  • Sleeping disorders that can cause patients to physically act out during their dreams.
  • Cognitive impairment resembling Alzheimer's disease.
  • Lethargy, disorganized speech, long periods of staring into space.

Protein deposits called "Lewy bodies" cause the disease and accumulate in nerve cells in regions of the brain. This causes the cells to degenerate and die over a period of time.

Sadly, there is no single test available that can diagnose the disease. Instead, doctors have to go through a process of elimination of other diseases. Like all other types of dementia, we are still in the learning process.

As for the long-suffering caregivers, all types of dementia are challenging to care for. However, caring for a loved one who has LBD is particularly hard because of the hallucinations and delusions.

For assistance in caring with loved ones with all forms of dementia, contact Spring Arbor.

The Tampa Tribune