The most common and familiar type of Dementia Alzheimer’s Dementia; however, did you know that Lewy Body Dementia is the second most common type of dementia? Unfortunately, this illness is also the most misdiagnosed form of dementia. The Lewy Body Dementia Association reports that on average, it takes over 18 months to diagnosis, despite obtaining multiple medical opinions. This delay in diagnosis can greatly frustrate caregivers as they watch their loved ones progress into a moderate or severe stage of dementia before being correctly diagnosed. This delay places them at risk for serious side effects if they are prescribed Haldol, a first-generation antipsychotic medication.
Lewy Body Dementia is caused by an abnormal build-up of protein deposits (Lewy bodies) in areas of the brain that affect memory, movement, behavior, and personality. Many patients are often misdiagnosed as having Parkinson’s Disease. Persons with Lewy Body Dementia and Parkinson’s both experience movement disorders making it confusing to distinguish the two conditions.
Common signs of Lewy Body Dementia include:
- Fluctuating alertness and thinking
- Visual hallucinations
- Parkinson’s like symptoms with tremors, rigid muscles, or shuffling walk
- Sleep disorders in which people act out their dreams in their sleep
- Loss of sense of smell
- Instability of blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature
- Excessive daytime sleeping
Risk factors include:
- Male gender
- Older than 60
- A family history of Lewy body dementia or Parkinson’s disease
To differentiate Lewy Body Dementia from Parkinson’s with dementia, keep the following in mind:
- Memory loss developed within a year following the start of movement ailments most likely have Lewy Body Dementia.
- Memory loss developed more than a year after the movement disorder, they have Parkinson’s with dementia.
Changes in memory, personality, movement, and behavior can be signs of Lewy Body Dementia. It is important to be referred to a physician who is trained in dementia, typically a neurologist. Early diagnosis of this disease is difficult without getting expert care. If you are struggling to get the answers you need on behalf of a family member, contact Severino Health Advisors. We will advocate for you to get the care your loved one absolutely deserves and desperately needs.