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The Second Most Common Type of Progressive Dementia

January 27, 2016

There is a growing awareness of Alzheimer’s Disease throughout the US as our elderly population ages and more and more senior citizens are affected by this form of dementia. However, few realize that there is another form of dementia called Lewy Body Dementia or Dementia with Lewy bodies that is not as well known as the other progressive dementia. LBD shares characteristics of both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Since it resembles other diseases, it makes it increasingly difficult to diagnose correctly.


LBD is the second most common type of dementia and accounts for up to 20% of dementia cases worldwide. The brain has a build-up of abnormal protein deposits causing it to disrupt the normal functioning of the brain. Neurologist, Frederick Lewy, first discovered and studied these protein deposits and how it caused deterioration in the brain. LBD can take two forms: dementia with Lewy bodies or Parkinson’s disease dementia. The biggest difference is how the disease presents itself. Dementia with Lewy bodies begins with a memory disorder that looks like Alzheimer’s, but later develops problems with hallucinations and movement. Parkinson’s disease dementia begins with movement disorders that resemble Parkinson’s, but will later develop dementia. LBD symptoms include hallucinations, shuffling gait, tremors, blank expression, sleep disorders and varied alertness and attention.


LBD patients are less prone to short-term memory loss, but more commonly experience inability to plan, organize or make decisions. They have difficulty judging distances and navigating which causes them to get lost or fall. The three main core features are changes in awareness and concentration, severe problems with motor skills and hallucinations or delusions. The biggest solution to treating the disease is early diagnosis. Early treatment can extend independence and quality of life. Currently, there is no cure, but doctors are able to treat the symptoms with several medications.




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