Lewy body dementia is the second most common form of degenerative dementia, affecting approximately 1.4 million people across the U.S. While the disease affects millions, few people have a good understanding of the disease, its symptoms, or how to manage them. American, Advocate and Whitsyms In-Home Care share information about Lewy body dementia symptoms to help family caregivers develop strategies to better manage and even reduce symptoms and improve the care experience.
What Is Lewy Body Dementia?
Lewy body dementia is a disease in which abnormal deposits of a protein called alpha-synuclein, also known as Lewy bodies, attach to the brain. The cause of Lewy body dementia is as yet unknown; however, research shows that a buildup of Lewy bodies is associated with the loss of specific neurons in the brain. One of these neurons is vital for memory and learning, and the other plays an essential role in movement, cognition, behavior, mood, and sleep.
The loss of these neurons produces a range of behavioral symptoms that can be challenging to manage, including:
- Cognitive changes
- Visual hallucinations, which occur in up to 80% of people with Lewy body dementia
- Changes in concentration, attention, and wakefulness that are often unpredictable
- Disorganized or illogical thoughts
- Poor judgment, confusion about time and place, and difficulty with language and numbers
- Weak voice
- Rigid or stiff muscles
- Tremor or shaking when resting
- Shuffling gait and slowed movement
- Balance issues and higher tendency to fall
- Stooped posture
- Decline in coordination
- Smaller handwriting than was usual for the person
- Lack of facial expressions
- Trouble swallowing
- REM sleep behavior disorder
- Feeling very tired during the day
- Restless leg syndrome
- Lack of interest in daily activities or social interaction
- Agitation and irritability
- Paranoia and delusions
How to Manage Lewy Body Dementia Symptoms
Medications, such as antipsychotic drugs, can be dangerous for people with Lewy body dementia and may make symptoms worse. Finding non-drug related methods to help manage symptoms is an ideal first step before trying medication.
- Accept behaviors that do not cause harm. Some Lewy body dementia symptoms, like paranoia and agitation, can lead to aggression or physical acting out. However, for those behaviors that are milder and do not cause the person or others pain or potential for physical harm, it can be best to tolerate the symptoms and focus more on distraction and reassurance.
- Determine if there is a physical cause for the behavior. Physical pain or discomfort can exacerbate symptoms, so check to see if something else, such as arthritis pain, injury, urinary tract infection, or other ailment may be causing the symptoms. Treating physical pain can often reduce negative behavioral issues.
- Modify the environment. Loud noises and clutter can trigger hallucinations and delusions common with Lewy body dementia, so ensure that the person’s environment is clean and as calm and quiet as possible to reduce symptoms.
- Create daily routines. A daily routine can help people with dementia feel safe and secure and minimize agitation. Keep to a regular schedule and break down daily tasks to make them easier to accomplish and reduce frustration.
- Seek therapy for movement and swallowing issues. Exercise and physical therapy can greatly help with many movement issues related to Lewy body dementia. For swallowing problems, speech therapy can teach seniors techniques that can make swallowing easier and safer.
Get Help from Florida Home Care Professionals
Caring for a loved one with Lewy body dementia can be challenging. Partnering with a referred home care provider can help. At American, Advocate, and Whitsyms In-Home Care, we offer professional Alzheimer’s and dementia care services through referred care providers that help older adults live safer, happier lives at home. Additionally, in-home respite care services allow busy family caregivers the time they need to take care of work, family, and themselves.
Contact our team today to find out more about how an experienced referred care provider can help the older adults in your life. Reach out to the office nearest you by clicking the links below to get started:
- American In-Home Care – Serving North, Central, and West Coast of Florida
- Advocate In-Home Care – Serving Southeast and Southwest Florida
- Whitsyms In-Home Care – Serving Southeast and Southwest Florida
State of Florida License and Registration Numbers: 30211518, 30211651, 30211295, 30211390, 30210978, 30211293, 30211382, 30211504, 30211733, 30211535, 30211531, 30211710, 30211709, 30211045, 5661