Lewy Body Dementia (LBD) is another form of dementia that causes changes in thinking, behavior, and movement. LBD is caused by abnormal deposits of a protein called alpha-synuclein in the brain. These deposits, called Lewy bodies, can lead to problems with thinking, movement, behavior, and mood. For example, symptoms may include changes in alertness and attention, hallucinations, tremor, muscle stiffness, sleep problems, and memory loss.
The two types of Lewy Body Dementia are:
- Dementia with Lewy bodies, in which cognitive symptoms appear within a year of movement problems
- Parkinson’s disease dementia, in which cognitive problems develop more than a year after the onset of movement problems
Lewy body dementia can be hard to diagnose because Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease cause similar symptoms. Scientists think that LBD might be related to these diseases, or that they sometimes happen together.
What treatments are available?
Currently there are no curative treatments available for Lewy Body Dementia. The current goal of therapy in treatment of LBD is symptomatic relief. Sometimes doctors will prescribe memory medications that are often prescribed for people with Alzheimer’s Disease. Learn more about medications prescribed for memory from the Alzheimer’s Association. Beyond memory medications, some people with FTD may benefit from medications to help with anxiety or depression, should they experience mood changes, or medications to help with sleep, such a melatonin. However, people living with LBD are often sensitive to medications, so it’s essential all medications are reviewed by a doctor and monitored for side effects.
Beyond medications, it’s important to stay mentally, socially, and physically active to help with cognition. Learn more about ways to optimize your brain health from AARP’s Global Council on Brain Health. Research has shown physical exercise, a heart-healthy diet, limiting alcohol intake, getting good sleep, mood management, and staying socially and mentally active, to all optimize brain health.