Other Dementias

Understanding Memory Loss

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What’s the difference between mild forgetfulness and more serious memory problems? Find out about memory problems, including Alzheimer's disease and dementia, and how to get help for serious memory loss.

NIH offers new resources on Lewy body dementia and dementia research

Dementia, a loss of cognitive functioning that interferes with independent living, has many possible causes. Two new publications from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) explore the topic:

Acknowledgments

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The National Institute on Aging and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke thank the following people for their contributions to the vision and creation of this booklet:

Lisa Snyder, MSW, LCSW
Director, Quality of Life Programs
Shiley-Marcos Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center
University of California, San Diego

Resources

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Find resources for Lewy body dementia such as general information, support services, and diagnosis and treatment centers.

Research—The Road Ahead

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researcher with microscopeLBD is of increasing interest to the Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease research communities. It represents an important link between these other brain disorders, and research into one disease often contributes to better understanding of the others. However, there is a great deal to learn about LBD. At a basic level, why does alpha-synuclein accumulate into Lewy bodies, and how do Lewy bodies cause the symptoms of LBD?

Caring for a Person with Lewy Body Dementia

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As someone who is caring for a person with LBD, you will take on many different responsibilities over time. You do not have to face these responsibilities alone. Many sources of help are available, from adult day centers and respite care to online and in-person support groups.

Below are some important actions you can take to adjust to your new roles, be realistic about your situation, and care for yourself. See the “Resources” section for more information.

Advice for People Living with Lewy Body Dementia

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older coupleCoping with a diagnosis of LBD and all that follows can be challenging. Getting support from family, friends, and professionals is critical to ensuring the best possible quality of life. Creating a safe environment and preparing for the future are important, too. Take time to focus on your strengths, enjoy each day, and make the most of your time with family and friends. Here are some ways to live with LBD day to day.

Treatment and Management

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While LBD currently cannot be prevented or cured, some symptoms may respond to treatment for a period of time. A comprehensive treatment plan may involve medications, physical and other types of therapy, and counseling. Changes to make the home safer, equipment to make everyday tasks easier, and social support are also very important.

A skilled care team often can provide suggestions to help improve quality of life for both people with LBD and their caregivers.

Diagnosis

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older couple with doctorIt’s important to know which type of LBD a person has, both to tailor treatment to particular symptoms and to understand how the disease will likely progress. Clinicians and researchers use the “1-year rule” to diagnose which form of LBD a person has. If cognitive symptoms appear within a year of movement problems, the diagnosis is dementia with Lewy bodies.

Common Symptoms

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People with LBD may not have every LBD symptom, and the severity of symptoms can vary greatly from person to person. Throughout the course of the disease, any sudden, major change in functional ability or behavior should be reported to a doctor.

The most common symptoms include changes in cognition, movement, sleep, and behavior.

Cognitive Symptoms

LBD causes changes in thinking abilities. These changes may include:

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