In-Home Care

How to Care for a Parent With Lewy Body Dementia

By December 22, 2015 No Comments

When your Mom or Dad’s health starts to fail, it can be a scary time for both you and your parent. This is especially How to Care for a Parent With Lewy Body Dementiatrue when it comes to Lewy body dementia (LBD). Lewy body dementia affects an estimated 1.4 million people in the United States, and the far-reaching affects impact not only patients but their families as well.

What is Lewy Body Dementia?

Lewy body dementia is a type of dementia closely associated with Parkinson’s disease. It derives its name from Lewy bodies, which are clumps of proteins detectable in the brain. Lewy body dementias are the second most common form of degenerative dementia, with only Alzheimer’s disease being more common.

Famous comedian Robin Williams may have struggled with Lewy body dementia. When he took his life in August of 2013, many speculated that depression was the cause. However, his widow revealed that he had struggled with Lewy body dementia and believed that it was the cause of his death. Another celebrity, well-known disc jockey Casey Kasem, also passed away in 2014 from LBD.

Symptoms of Lewy Body Dementia

The symptoms of Lewy body dementia are quite different than other similar diseases, such as Alzheimer’s. Those with LBD will experience impaired thinking, fluctuations in attention and cognition, problems with movement, sleep disorders and hallucinations. Behavioral and mood symptoms such as depression, anxiety and paranoia often accompany this disease as well.

Although Lewy body dementia is common, it is often misdiagnosed. Most commonly, patients are diagnosed with Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease until the distinguishing symptoms of LDB are recognized. Medication can help reduce some symptoms, but Lewy body dementia patients react very negatively to some of the medications commonly used for Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s diseases.

Holistic Treatment Options

With a disease like Lewy body dementia, it’s important to have a holistic program of care that includes both medical and non-medical treatments. Many medications can assist LBD sufferers, but traditional anti-psychotic medications such as haloperidol should be avoided, due to the significant side effects in patients with LBD.

Non-medical treatment options for Lewy body dementia patients include physical therapy to help with movement issues, speech therapy for speech and swallowing problems, occupational therapy to promote independence, and psychotherapy to learn strategies to manage the behavioral and emotional issues that are part of the disease. Support groups can also be very helpful for those who are giving regular care to someone with LBD.

Finding a Caregiver who Specializes in Dementia

Many times dementia patients, including LBD sufferers, become too overwhelming for family members to care for alone. In that case, you’ll need to start looking for help. While there are many caregivers available, it’s important to find someone who specializes in caring for patients with dementia.

At Team Select Home Care, we have caregivers who are trained in either medical or non-medical care for patients suffering from dementia. We’d be happy to help you find someone to care for your loved one, whether you need an occasional break or a long-term in-home care solution. For more information call us at one of our local offices.