Next to Alzheimer’s disease, Lewy Body Dementia is the second most common form of dementia. Lewy Body Dementia is caused by abnormal protein deposits that disrupt the brain’s normal functioning. These Lewy bodies reduce the neurotransmitter dopamine and cause Parkinsonian symptoms. Lewy bodies are found in other areas of the brain such as the cerebral cortex and reduce the brain chemical acetylcholine and cause changes in thinking and behavior. Lewy Body Dementia may cause it’s sufferers to react negatively to normal medications used to treat Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.
Memory problems are usually the first sign of Lewy Body Dementia. Changes in speaking, forgetting words, difficulty learning, personality changes, inability to problem solve and poor decision making are very common.
Well formed and detailed visual hallucinations are another common sign of Lewy Body Dementia. They are most pronounced when the person is most confused. Although visual hallucinations are the most common type, other types of hallucinations may occur such as hallucinations dealing with sound, taste, smell and touch.
Features of Parkinson’s disease are a common symptom of Lewy Body Dementia. Shuffling feet, walking stiffly as well as frequent falls are all symptoms. The arms and the legs may develop stiffness. Stooped posture, Parkinson’s mask, a blank stare, runny nose, and drooling may also be present.
Fluctuations in Confusion Level
Fluctuations in level of confusion are common. One moment the person may be completely fine and the next they might have severe confusion. Because of these fluctuations people with Lewy Body Dementia are often accused of “faking it.”
If you or your loved one are experiencing any of these symptoms make an appointment with your neurologist. To find out more about Lewy Body Dementia you can visit LBDA.ORG.