It has been just over a year since Robin Williams suddenly passed and a recent interview with his widow, Susan Williams, has re-opened the conversation of Alzheimer’s and Lewy Body Dementia. Over 1.4 million American’s are affected with Lewy Body Dementia and this disease is often misdiagnosed and misunderstood by medical professionals, patients and their loved ones. From the Lewy Body Dementia Association, here are 5 things you should know about the disease.
5 Things To Know About Lewy Body Dementia
- Lewy Body Dementia (LBD) is the Second Most Common Form of Degenerative Dementia.
The other form of degenerative dementia that is more common than LBD is Alzheimer’s disease. LBD is an overall term for dementia associated with the presence of Lewy bodies (abnormal deposits of a protein called alpha-synuclein) in the brain.
- Lewy Body Dementia Can Have Three Common Presentations
- Some patients will develop movement disorders that can lead to Parkinson’s disease and potentially turn into dementia later
- Others may develop memory issues that can be diagnosed as Alzheimer’s disease, though overtime they tend to show other features that lead to a LBD diagnosis
- Finally, a small group will present neuropsychiatric symptoms, which can include hallucinations, behavioral problems and difficulty with complex mental activities
- The Most Common Symptoms Are:
- Impaired thinking, such as loss of executive function e.g. planning, processing information, memory or the ability to understand visual information
- Changes in cognition, attention or alertness
- Problems with movement including tremors, stiffness, slowness and difficulty walking
- Visual hallucinations (seeing things that are not present)
- Sleep disorders, such as acting out one’s dreams while asleep
- Behavioral and mood symptoms, including depression, apathy, anxiety, agitation, delusions or paranoia
- Changes in autonomic body functions, such as blood pressure control, temperature regulation, and bladder and bowel function.
- The Symptoms of Lewy Body Dementia Are Treatable
All medications prescribed for LBD are approved for a course of treatment for symptoms related to other diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease with dementia and offer symptomatic benefits for cognitive, movement and behavioral problems.
- Early and Accurate Diagnosis of Lewy Body Dementia is Essential
Early and accurate diagnosis is important because Lewy Body Dementia patients may react to certain medications differently than Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s patients. A variety of drugs, including anticholinergics and some antiparkinsonian medications, can worsen Lewy Body Dementia symptoms.
For those affected and their families, Lewy Body Dementia can be confusing and frusterating. With so many patients misdiagnosed, early detection is critical. To help better keep track of your own mental health, take a MemTrax memory test throughout the year to monitor your memory and retention abilities. Come back next time for 5 more important facts to know about Lewy Body Dementia.
MemTrax is a screening test for the detection of learning and short-term memory issues, particularly the type of memory problems that arise with aging, Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. MemTrax was founded by Dr. Wes Ashford, who has been developing the memory testing science behind MemTrax since 1985. Dr. Ashford graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 1970. At UCLA (1970 – 1985), he attained an M.D. (1974) and Ph.D. (1984). He trained in psychiatry (1975 – 1979) and was a founding member of the Neurobehavior Clinic and the first Chief Resident and Associate Director (1979 – 1980) on the Geriatric Psychiatry in-patient unit. The MemTrax test is quick, easy and can be administered on the MemTrax website in less than three minutes. www.memtrax.com