Lewy body dementia shares characteristics with both Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. Like Alzheimer's, it causes confusion. Like Parkinson's, it can result in rigid muscles, slowed movement and tremors.
Lewy body dementia (LBD) is a progressive neurological disorder. Lewy body dementia is an umbrella term for two related diagnoses - Parkinson’s disease dementia (PDD) and dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB).
The earliest symptoms of these two diseases differ, but reflect the same underlying biological changes in the brain. Over time, people with both diagnoses will develop very similar cognitive, physical, sleep, and behavioral symptoms.
The most striking symptom of Lewy body dementia may be its visual hallucinations, which can be one of the first signs of the disorder. Hallucinations may range from abstract shapes or colors to conversations with deceased loved ones.
Lewy body dementia signs and symptoms may include:
Visual hallucinations. Seeing colors, shapes, animals or people may be one of the first symptoms of Lewy body dementia.
Movement disorders. Parkinson's-like signs may include slowed movement, rigid muscles, tremors or a shuffling walk.
Delusions. These may consist of false ideas about another person or situation.
Cognitive problems. Alzheimer's-like problems may include confusion, memory loss and reduced attention spans.
Sleep difficulties. A sleep disorder can cause you to physically act out your dreams while you're asleep.
After onset, Lewy body dementia typically causes severe dementia. The Parkinson's-like features and visual hallucinations tend to worsen with time. Average survival is about eight years after symptoms begin.
Bob DeMarco is the editor of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. The Alzheimer's Reading Room is the number one website on the Internet for news, advice, and insight into Alzheimer's disease. Bob has written more than 800 articles with more than 18,000 links on the Internet. Bob resides in Delray Beach, FL.