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Dementia Stages

Many patients do not begin to experience significant movement symptoms until several years after their diagnoses.

Understanding LBD and Its Symptoms

Lewy Body Dementia, also known as LBD, is a degenerative neurological disease that can manifest itself in a wide variety of ways over time. It has historically been one of the least-understood forms of dementia, although it has recently found itself at the center of a much-needed national dialogue due to reports of Robin Williams' diagnosis with LBD prior to his untimely death. It is currently believed that around 1.4 million U.S. residents are suffering from Lewy Body Dementia.

Since LBD is a degenerative disease, its symptoms typically start off slowly then worsen over time. Patients diagnosed with LBD typically live between two and 20 years before eventually succumbing to it, but the time frame for development of symptoms varies from person to person and is believed to be largely dependent on age, overall health, and family history.

Stages of LBDf

Often, patients suffering from the early stages of LBD experience only mild symptoms and can function normally for some time. However, as their dementia stages progress and the disease advances, patients require more outside help to manage their symptoms. Almost everyone requires help with daily care once the disease has progressed into its later stages due to a noticeable decline in cognitive and movement abilities.

Cognitive Symptoms

Changes in thinking abilities related to LBD include dementia, hallucinations, and cognitive fluctuations. These cognitive systems often affect patients' abilities to plan, reason, and multi-task in addition to causing difficulty with both spatial and visual abilities and memory problems in advanced stages of the disease. Confusion, mood changes, poor judgment, behavioral changes, and realistic and detailed visual hallucinations can all occur and often fluctuate from day to day and at different times of the day.

Movement Symptoms

Many patients do not begin to experience significant movement symptoms until several years after their diagnoses. Initial symptoms include changes in handwriting but, eventually, these movement symptoms progress into parkinsonism. Symptoms of parkinsonism can include muscle stiffness, gait changes, tremors, balance problems, stooped posture, coordination issues, reduced facial expression, and difficulty swallowing and speaking.

Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorders are quite common in patients suffering from LBD and unfortunately, they often go undiagnosed. These disorders may include excessive daytime sleepiness, insomnia, REM sleep behavior disorder, and restless leg syndrome. It's important to include a sleep specialist on a patient's treatment team to help diagnose and combat these disorders.

Get Help Now

Caretaking for patients with LBD can be extremely difficult, but caretakers deserve to know they are not alone. Check out the Lewy Body Dementia Resource Center for more information about symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of LBD.