What Is Lewy Body Dementia? How Is It Different From Alzheimer’s Disease

For many years patients have been diagnosed with dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease without narrowing in on Lewy Body Dementia. This is a difficult condition to diagnose because of its very nature. But, new information indicates that as many as 1.4 million people older than 50 may have this condition called Lewy Body Dementia. The problem with correctly diagnosing this condition is that there are many different presentations and symptoms. This is a degenerative neurological disease with many different symptoms that present themselves over a period of time.

What is Lewy Body Dementia?

This disease is a degenerative neurological condition that presents its many and varied symptoms over time. It involves the aggregation of oddly shaped deposits of alpha-synuclein inside the brain tissue. Because the symptoms change and are added to over time, this disease may be misdiagnosed. In some stages, this disease is similar to Parkinson’s Disease or even Alzheimer’s disease and is misdiagnosed. Many times the patients are labeled as having Dementia. But, this is the most common form of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease. It gets its name from the protein deposits or Lewy bodies that develop in nerve cells in areas of the brain that regulate thinking, movement, and memory.

What Are The Symptoms Of LBD?

The symptoms and early signs of LBD develop over time and fluctuate. Some of the symptoms include:

Slowness of movement, rigidity, and difficulty walking

Hallucinations in vision along with a sensitivity to the medications used to treat those hallucinations

Changing cognitive ability, alertness, and attention span

Sleep disorders during REM time with patients yelling, falling out of bed, flailing about, and acting out dreams.

Compromised ability to multitask, handle complex mental activities, memory, and problem-solving. In other words, a serious loss of thinking ability.

Periods of staring into space and of sleeping for long periods during the day as well as at night.

The patient may have good days and bad days that make it hard to diagnose the disease correctly. Changes in the ability to move and physically function can include changing handwriting, stiffness, balance problems, and tremors. Falls may become more common and they may develop difficulty in swallowing. There are many other symptoms that may or may not present themselves.

LBD Prognosis

This is a progressive disease that lasts from five to seven years. At the end, the patient dies. Some cases have lasted as few as two years or as long as twenty years. The patient can function fairly normally in early stages but will become more and more dependant on others for assistance as the disease progresses. Medical personnel or family members can find more information about symptoms and diagnosis of LBD at the from Lewy Body Dementia Resource Center. People can get information here.