What is Lewy Body Dementia and How Can Home Care Help?

February 15, 2021 | BY PHS Staff

Lewy body dementia is a progressive dementia resulting in a decline in thinking, independent function and reasoning abilities due to the presence of abnormal microscopic deposits that cause damage to the brain cells in time. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, this is the third most common cause of dementia, after Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia.

Lewy bodies are also present in other brain disorders like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, and can lead to movement symptoms, such as poor posture, rigid muscles, and shuffling gait.

If you or a loved one has recently been diagnosed with Lewy body dementia, the news can be devastating. Due to the progressive nature of the disease, there is a good chance that at some point, extra care and assistance with everyday tasks will be necessary. Alzheimer’s home care can help you and your loved one cope with the challenges that come with this disease.

Signs of Lewy Body Dementia

There is no cure for Lewy body dementia and specific causes are also unknown. In fact, most people diagnosed with the disease have no family history of it. Here are some signs of Lewy body dementia:

  • Changes in reasoning and thinking.
  • Noticeable swings in alertness and confusion throughout the day, or even from day to day.
  • Slow walk, shuffle or gait imbalance.
  • Visual hallucinations and delusions.
  • Difficulty assessing visual information.
  • Sleep disorders.
  • Nervous system malfunctions.
  • Memory loss.

Because Lewy bodies are present in both Lewy body dementia and Alzheimer’s, the symptoms can appear quite similar. However, there are distinct differences:

  • Memory loss tends to be more prominent in early Alzheimer’s diagnoses than in early Lewy body dementia. However, memory loss is present in advanced Lewy body dementia, affecting judgment and visual perception.
  • Movement symptoms tend to show up earlier in Lewy body dementia than in Alzheimer’s, although people with advanced Alzheimer’s may have problems with walking and balance.
  • Hallucinations, delusions and inability to identify loved ones tend to be symptoms of Lewy body dementia more so than Alzheimer’s.
  • REM sleep disorders are more prominent in early Lewy body dementia.
  • Nervous system disruptions that cause dizziness, urinary incontinence, and falls are more common in early Lewy body dementia.

Currently, no treatments exist to slow down or halt the progression of brain cell damage that is a hallmark of Lewy body dementia. Instead, the focus is on reducing symptoms and ensuring the person remains comfortable.

How Can Home Care Help?

Caring for a person with Lewy body dementia takes patience and skill, as well as frequent re-assessment. Some people are able to live at home, at least initially, with careful supervision and help with daily tasks. More focused care may be needed for those who fall repeatedly, as well as home safety assessments by a physical or occupational therapist. Modifications to the home may have to be made.

The risk of falling is a big concern in those with Lewy body dementia, so ongoing attention to safety on the part of caregivers is essential, says the Family Caregiver Alliance. Of particular concern is when the person is rising from a chair or the bed, as it’s common for them to experience a rapid drop in blood pressure. This can lead to dizziness and loss of balance.

In addition, this type of dementia can pose difficulties for people to learn new ways of controlling movement, such as with a walker or cane. It’s also not uncommon for them to require more help some days and not so much on others. Caregivers should be prepared to adapt quickly to motor, cognitive, and behavioral changes. To reduce caregiver stress, it’s helpful to attend support groups and learn how to effectively communicate with their loved one.

Contact Preferred HealthStaff

Preferred HealthStaff offers complete Alzheimer’s care and care for many other memory-related disorders, including Lewy body dementia, with professionals who are trained and certified to care for your loved one. To learn more about our Alzheimer’s in home care, contact us toll free at 866-943-9791 or in Fairfield 717-642-8500.