About Alzheimer's & Dementia
What are Lewy Body dementias?
Lewy Body Dementia (LBD) is a form of progressive dementia identified by unusual collections of alpha-synuclein proteins (called lewy bodies) in the nerve cells of the brain. The typical onset is between 60 and 65 years of age.
Symptoms of Lewy Body Dementia include symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. What differentiates Lewy Body Dementia from other types of dementia is often visual hallucinations, fluctuating intellectual (cognitive) skills and development of a shuffling gait (Parkinson-type symptoms).
How is it diagnosed?
Diagnosis of Dementia with Lewy bodies can be a challenge for physicians and is usually done by a specialist. People with Lewy Body Dementia can be mistakenly diagnosed as having Alzheimer's disease or vascular dementia. The diagnosis of DLB is made based on the combination of symptoms − very persistent visual hallucinations, fluctuation and the presence of the stiffness and trembling of Parkinson's. New brain-imaging tests can also help.
It is always important to get an accurate diagnosis of dementia, but a proper diagnosis is particularly important in cases of suspected Lewy Body Dementia because persons affected have been shown to react poorly to certain types of medication (neuroleptics).
What kind of treatment is available?
Currently, there is no known cure for Lewy Body Dementia. Research suggests that cholinesterase inhibitor drugs used to treat Alzheimer’s disease, such as Aricept or Exelon, may prove helpful. Drugs used to treat Parkinson’s disease could be useful to control rigidity and spasticity, but may potentially aggravate confusion and hallucinations. Physiotherapy and mobility exercises can be tried. We encourage appropriate consultation with a physician or specialist.