The definition of dementia is most often considered to simply be loss of memory. This may be something you think of as expected with the onset of age, but there is more to it than that. With this specific type of dementia, Lewy body dementia, a certain cause brings on the disease while the symptoms are often confused with other diseases like Alzheimer’s and other brain disorders.
What is Lewy Body Dementia?
Interestingly enough, Lewy body dementia (LBD) and dementia are not the same diseases. LBD is associated with abnormal deposits of a protein called alpha-synuclein, or Lewy bodies in the brain. These deposits then affect chemicals in the brain, leading to problems with thinking, movement, behavior, and mood. Lewy body dementia is one of the most common causes of permanent dementia.
10 Key Signs and Symptoms of Lewy Body Dementia
It is hard to separate the key symptoms of Lewy body dementia from dementia, Alzheimer’s or other memory loss. The diagnosis of LBD can be challenging because early symptoms are not clearly different from any of these.
10 key signs or symptoms include:
- Cognitive fluctuations – This may include a lack of thought or short periods of staring into space without attention to any person or activity. The speech or writing of a senior may become hard to understand as LBD begins its effects.
- Hallucinations – This may be one of the first symptoms. They may include seeing shapes, animals or people that are not there.
- Movement problems – Over time it may be harder for a senior to move, even simple daily movement like walking, as LBD comes onto the elderly.
- REM sleep behavior disorder – Quite simply REM sleep patterns may be broken, and this is something that a spouse or other close individual would notice. A homecare provider also has the chance to keep an eye on the sleep quality of an elderly loved one for you.
- Insomnia – Just as this is typically seen, insomnia is trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. With seniors, it is hard to have them open up about this problem to others, so it is important for senior caregivers to make sure they ask questions about the quality of sleep the elderly are getting.
- Restless leg syndrome – This is an issue that will most likely be recognized by a spouse or loved one sleeping nearby. Because it is easy to notice motion or activity during sleep, this is something that a caregiver may notice while a senior is sleeping as well and can discuss with the physician.
- Depression – Common symptoms of depression, whether it is sadness or introversion, may include an additional sign of LBD.
- Apathy – Another psychological issue that may indicate LBD, a senior may have a lack of motivation toward a physical activity or social interaction.
- Anxiety – Nerves can become an issue at any time in life, but if they become an issue suddenly in your loved one’s senior years it could be an indicator of LBD as well. At this time it may be helpful to ask homecare providers to keep an eye out for any of these other signs and if things get worse.
- Paranoia – A senior may start to scare easily or believe some radical fears. At this point, a homecare provider is definitely helpful, even if it is necessary 24 hours in their own home.
You will likely notice that most of these include psychological changes or fluctuations along with sleep issues. These are mostly not very serious at the beginning and would most likely be noticed by a spouse or a homecare service provider who is close to the one suffering these symptoms. It is easy for any senior to brush off sleep issues or slight troubles with movement as a result of aging, but there could be an underlying issue with LBD there.
If you or a loved one are in need of Homecare Services in Northampton PA or the surrounding areas, contact the caring professionals at Extended Family Care of Allentown. Call today at (610) 200-6097.
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