How do you care for someone with Lewy Body dementia?

Impact1001 asked...

I would like to know how do you care for a person with Lewy Body dementia

Expert Answer

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

Lewy body dementia (LBD) causes a progressive dementia. The disease causes abnormal structures, called Lewy bodies, to develop in regions of your brain involved in thinking and movement.

Signs of LBD include: 1) Visual hallucinations: mostly people/children or animals. 2) Fluctuations in alertness: daytime drowsiness or periods of staring into space are common. 3) Rigidity, tremors, and slowness of movement: many people will say that it has symptoms like Parkinson's disease.

To take care of someone with Lewy Body dementia is a challenge, as there is no cure.

Medications: 1) Cholinesterase inhibitors. These are the "Alzheimer's disease medications". There is data that they can help improve alertness and mental function, while also helping to reduce hallucinations and other behavioral problems that can come from LBD. 2) Sometimes, Parkinson's disease medications are given to help reduce tremors. Keep in mind that sometimes these meds can cause more confusion and delusions, so they must be used very carefully.
3) Antidepressants: These are sometimes used to improve mood and reduce anxiety, as LBD patients can have behavioral and psychiatric symptoms from their disease.

LBD can also cause falls, as it has many of the same symptoms as Parkinson's disease. It is helpful to make the patient's environment as safe as possible. Reducing clutter, getting rid of rugs on the floor, installing more lights, and using walkers or other adaptive equipment can help. Exercise is very important, as improves strength, improves health, and helps retain muscle function. It can also help maintain flexibility and balance, which may lessen the risk of serious falls. Hope this helps!