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Dementia is common in seniors and facing it can be a frightening experience.
Thankfully, there are many treatments available that can mitigate or slow the symptoms, improving your quality of life for many years.
In this article, we’ll talk about everything you need to know regarding dementia with Lewy bodies, including how to recognize the signs to help aid with early detection.
What Is Dementia With Lewy Bodies?
So what is dementia with Lewy bodies, and how does it differ from other forms of dementia?
Lewy body dementia is a broad term that includes several common types of dementia.
One of these is related to Parkinson’s Disease, while the other is Dementia With Lewy Bodies proper, or DLB.
Causes Of Dementia With Lewy Bodies
Lewy bodies are protein deposits in the brain that cause the unique symptoms of dementia with Lewy bodies.
These deposits affect brain function, leading to issues with sleep, memory, muscle function, and sense of reality.
We are still learning exactly what causes dementia with Lewy bodies. So far, research hasn’t pinpointed a single cause.
However, people with Parkinson’s Disease or certain sleep disorders seem to be at a higher risk of developing dementia with Lewy bodies.
Symptoms Of Dementia With Lewy Bodies
As with most diseases, early detection can spell the difference in the severity of symptoms of dementia with Lewy bodies and how it is treated.
The earliest signs usually include:
- Cognitive changes that might affect feelings of wakefulness or fatigue, causing you to feel tired after a full night’s sleep or wide awake in the middle of the night
- Weakened balance or poor movement
- Mood or personality changes
Hallucinations Caused By This Dementia
Unlike most other types of dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies doesn’t usually start out with memory loss.
Instead, it is characterized by hallucinations or distortions of reality. This may be extremely realistic and disorienting.
Most of the time these are purely visual, but some people do hear or smell things that aren’t there as well.
About 80 percent of people with DLB have some kind of hallucination, making it distinctive enough to differentiate it from Alzheimer’s and other similar types of dementia.
Developing Muscle Disorders
One of the most characteristic symptoms of dementia with Lewy bodies is changes in the muscles.
This can cause symptoms that change the way you move and use your limbs. Some people notice that their limbs are uncharacteristically stiff or rigid.
They might also have problems walking normally, developing a stiff or wobbly gait or standing frozen for stretches of time. While resting, their muscles might shake.
Loss of Normal Body Function
Loss of body function is also associated with DLB.
What does this mean, exactly? In short, it can include everything from difficulty regulating body temperature (leading to sensitivity to heat or cold), urinary incontinence, oscillating blood pressure, fainting or dizziness, and other issues.
People with DLB may also suffer from sexual dysfunction, lose their sense of smell, and fall down regularly.
Along with hallucinations and body stiffness, sleep issues are one of the most distinctive signs of dementia with Lewy bodies.
Scientists speculate that it may be related to other sleep disorders. People who suffer from DLB often suffer from insomnia, with a distortion in their circadian rhythm.
This can also lead to them sleeping odd hours, feeling wide awake in the middle of the night or extremely fatigued during the day.
It can even lead to fatigue after a good night’s rest that would normally have let them feel refreshed. They may also develop REM sleep behavior disorder.
Who is at Risk of Dementia With Lewy Bodies?
As mentioned above, scientists are still finding out what causes dementia with Lewy bodies and consequently who might be at risk. You may be at higher risk of developing DLB if:
- You have family history of Parkinson’s Disease or DLB
- You have certain sleep disorders affecting the REM cycle
- You are male
- You are older than 60
Being diagnosed with dementia with Lewy bodies or another form of dementia can be frightening, but you or your loved one don’t have to face it alone.
If you are looking for support in the form of a senior community, our advisors are ready to help you get the care and attention you need!