Lewy body dementia, also called dementia with Lewy bodies, is a common type of progressive dementia much like Alzheimer’s disease. With Lewy body dementia, protein deposits, called Lewy bodies, develop in nerve cells in the brain regions involved in thinking, memory, and movement (motor control). Those who have it, have Lewy bodies in their brains and also have the plaques and tangles associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
It is a progressive disease, usually coming on slowly. Sometimes you or elder care providers slowly begin to pick up on the behaviors that indicate the progression of this disease. There is no cure for Lewy body dementia, but once it has been diagnosed, it can be managed with medication and care.
If you or your elder care team suspect that your elderly loved one is developing Lewy body dementia, these are the symptoms you might see.
- Visual hallucinations. If your parent is having hallucinations, it is often one of the first symptoms, and you’ll begin to see it more and more often. Your elder care team may notice your parent talking about things that aren’t there. Hallucinations can come in many forms. If your parent has Lewy body dementia, he might hallucinate shapes, animals, or people. Sound (auditory), smell (olfactory), or touch (tactile) hallucinations are possible.
- Cognitive issues. Your aging loved one might have thought (cognitive) problems similar to those of Alzheimer’s disease, such as confusion, poor attention, visual-spatial problems, and memory loss.
- Sleep difficulties. Your parent might develop rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder, which can cause him to physically act out his dreams while he’s asleep. This condition can cause him to have behavior such as punching, kicking, yelling and screaming while sleeping. It can obviously make a good night’s sleep difficult for all involved.
- Inability to pay attention for longer periods. Your elderly loved one might start to display episodes of drowsiness, long periods of staring into space, or long naps during the day as well as disorganized speech that doesn’t follow a complete thought process.
- Movement problems. You might also see your parent beginning to show signs of Parkinson’s disease. These symptoms include such things as tremors, movements that are slowed down, rigid muscles, and walking that is shuffled and slow. It might also lead to more falling as the body no longer does what your parent wants it to do.
- Poor regulation of body functions (autonomic nervous system). Functions of the body that are regulated by the nervous system, such as blood pressure, sweating pulse, and the digestive process can be disrupted due to the effects of Lewy body dementia. Your parent can experience sudden drops in blood pressure upon standing, dizziness, loss of bladder control (urinary incontinence), and bowel issues such as constipation.
- Depression. Your parent might develop depression and be unable to experience joy in things that used to bring him pleasure. He might also develop apathy and lose all motivation to do things and go places.
Your parent will need a complete examination and the doctors will help you develop a care plan if your aging loved one has developed Lewy body dementia.
If you or an aging loved one is considering elder care in Stockton, CA, please contact the caring staff at Provident Care Home Care today at (209) 578-1210.
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