Owners' Blog

How is Lewy Body Dementia Diagnosed?

By Hilary and Greg Eldridge

Lewy body dementia (LBD) is a complex condition that is often difficult to diagnose. It has many similarities to other forms of dementia, like Alzheimer’s, which further complicates diagnosis. Determining if an older adult has LBD or some other form of dementia often takes some time.

Symptoms of LBD

Symptoms of LBD differ from one person to the next. Common LBD symptoms include:

  • Changes in the way the person thinks or reasons.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Delusions.
  • Periods of confusion and alertness that vary throughout the day or from day to day.
  • Memory loss.
  • Physical symptoms of Parkinson’s, such as a hunched posture, rigid muscles, or balance problems.
  • REM sleep disorder, which is the acting out of dreams.
  • Difficulty interpreting visual information.

Diagnosing LBD

Unfortunately, there is not a single test that can definitively determine that a person has LBD. Instead, diagnosis involves tests, examinations, and observations. The Mayo Clinic says that to be diagnosed with LBD, a person must show a progressive decline in cognitive abilities and at least two of the following symptoms:

  • Fluctuations in cognitive abilities and alertness that are unpredictable.
  • Parkinson’s-like symptoms.
  • Visual hallucinations that occur more than once.
  • REM sleep disorder.

LBD is Different than Alzheimer’s Disease

Though the two conditions have some symptoms in common, they are two separate and distinct diseases. The Alzheimer’s Association notes the following differences between the two:

  • Memory loss associated with LBD is not as severe in the early stages as it is with Alzheimer’s.
  • REM sleep disorder occurs more often with LBD than Alzheimer’s.
  • Symptoms related to movement are more prominent in the early stages of LBD, but Alzheimer’s may cause mobility issues in its middle and late stages.
  • Changes in the autonomic nervous system that cause the blood pressure to drop when the person stands, incontinence, dizziness, and falls are more often experienced in people with early LBD.
  • People with LBD experience visual hallucinations, delusions, and misidentify people more often with early LBD than Alzheimer’s.

For families struggling with a diagnosis of LBD or other kind of dementia, an elderly care provider can assist with care. An elderly care provider can help someone with LBD to dress, eat, and ambulate. Elderly care providers can be especially helpful in keeping seniors with dementia safe since their cognitive losses might cause them to wander or make unsafe decisions. Knowing that someone is there to care for your loved one can relieve some of the stress involved in receiving a difficult diagnosis like LBD.


Sources
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/lewy-body-dementia/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20352030
https://www.lbda.org/content/it-lbd-or-something-else
https://www.alz.org/dementia/dementia-with-lewy-bodies-symptoms.asp

If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring elderly care in Roswell, GA, please contact the caring staff at Home Helpers, call (678) 430-8511.