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What's the difference between dementia with Lewy bodies and Alzheimer's disease?

 

Question: My father was originally diagnosed with Alzheimer's but that was changed to Dementia with Lewy Bodies. Can you explain the difference? Does this change his prognosis?

Dr. Amy: The Lewy Body Dementia Association has a terrific website that provides a complete range of information about this condition. I think you will find it very helpful. Accordingly:

  • Memory loss tends to be a more prominent symptom in early Alzheimer's than in early dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), although advanced DLB may cause memory problems in addition to its more typical effects on judgment, planning and visual perception.
  • Movement symptoms are more likely to be an important cause of disability early in DLB than in Alzheimer's, although Alzheimer's can cause problems with walking, balance and getting around as it progresses to moderate and severe stages.
  • Hallucinations, delusions, and misidentification of familiar people are significantly more frequent in early-stage DLB than in Alzheimer's.
  • REM sleep disorder is more common in early DLB than in Alzheimer's.
  • Disruption of the autonomic nervous system, causing a blood pressure drop on standing, dizziness, falls and urinary incontinence, is much more common in early DLB than in Alzheimer's.

Everyone is unique, but taking care of a loved one with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia such as DLB can be incredibly demanding. You can’t do it alone and you will need lots of support—from the medical team, with caregiving tasks, and emotionally as you travel this caregiving journey. I encourage you to check out the resources on this website, including a webinar made specifically for caregivers like you, and this list of 10 things you should know.

I also encourage you to reach out to find a support group in your area.

I send you strength.

 

 

 

 

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