Community Blog

5 Tips to Help Care for a Parent with Lewy Body Dementia

By Vicki and Brian Day

Lewy Body Dementia (LBD) affects 1.3 million Americans and is the second most common form among dementia conditions that are progressive. People with LBD develop symptoms such as dementia, hallucinations, changes in movement, behavioral changes, and sleep disorders. Caring for someone with LBD is challenging and emotional. It requires a great deal of time, patience, and dedication. If your parent has been diagnosed with LBD, we hope the following tips will help you and your family to navigate the journey.

#1 Learn Everything You Can About LBD

LBD is a disease that many people are unfamiliar with. Even people who work in the medical profession, such as emergency physicians and other hospital staff members, may not be well-informed about the disease. For this reason, it’s important that you take the time to learn about LBD. You may find that you need to inform hospital staff that your parent has LBD and is sensitive to some medications. You might also need to teach family members and friends about the disease so that they understand your parent’s symptoms and actions.

#2 Be Prepared for Cognitive Changes

LBD changes the way a person thinks, which can affect reasoning and problem solving skills. Memory loss is also an issue. Keep an eye on your parent’s cognitive changes so that you will know when it is time for your parent to give up things that may become unsafe, such as driving. Discussing giving up certain freedoms could be difficult and your parent may resist these changes. Asking someone your parent trusts and sees as an authority on the subject, such as a doctor, to talk to your parent about giving up driving or other freedoms may help them to accept the situation.

#3 Help Your Parent Maintain Dignity and Independence

Having LBD can make a person feel helpless and there may well come a day when your parent can do very little for themselves. Allowing your parent to maintain as much dignity and independence as possible will improve their quality of life. Try not to talk in front of your parent as though they aren’t there. Also, avoid the urge to take over and do too much. Let your parent do the things they can while they are still able.

#4 Take Care of Yourself

Your health and emotional well-being are important to your ability to provide your parent with the level of care they deserve. Don’t let LBD take over your life. Make time for yourself and continue to do the things you enjoy. Try to stick to a healthy diet and remain physically active.

#5 Find Help Before You Need It

Build a support system even before your parent’s condition gets so bad that they need constant care. Find a support group for family members of people with LBD. Explore options for assistance in your parent’s community. The local senior center may be able to help you find respite care and volunteers to help with some tasks. Enlist family members and friends to share some of the responsibilities. Research professional elderly care providers, such as those hired through agencies, who can be a great asset when your parent’s need for care grows. Having an elderly care provider lined up that you can contact when it is time will be much easier than scrambling to find someone when the need is urgent.