Dementia symptoms: Does your partner do this in bed? Major warning sign
Dementia is a group of related symptoms associated with brain damage. The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s produces symptoms that are common across all forms of dementia. The most prevalent symptom being memory loss. This complicates efforts to diagnose specific forms of dementia, but there are ways to differentiate them.
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There are symptoms of dementia with Lewy bodies that can help distinguish it from other types of dementia, for example.
Lewy body dementia, also known as dementia with Lewy bodies, is the second most common type of progressive dementia after Alzheimer’s disease dementia.
Like all forms of dementia, Lewy body dementia causes a progressive decline in mental abilities, but the effect it has on the brain causes distinctive behaviours.
One way to tell Lewy body dementia apart from other forms are sleep disturbances.
According to the NHS, this could be talking in sleep, acting out dreams or sleepiness during the day.
How does Lewy body dementia lead to sleep disturbances?
According to an article published in the National Institute of Aging (NIA), Lewy body dementia is a disease associated with abnormal deposits of a protein called alpha-synuclein in the brain.
An accumulation of these deposits is associated with a loss of certain neurons in the brain that produce two important neurotransmitters – chemicals that act as messengers between brain cells, says the NIA.
One of these messengers is dopamine, which plays an important role in sleep.
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Other warning signs of Lewy body dementia
Other distinctive symptoms include:
- Seeing or sometimes hearing things that are not there (hallucinations) – these can range from pleasant to distressing
- Marked swings between alertness and confusion or sleepiness – this can happen unexpectedly and change over minutes or hours
- Slow movement, stiff limbs, tremors (uncontrollable shaking) and shuffling when walking – similar to Parkinson’s disease
- Fainting, unsteadiness and falls
- Disturbed sleep – this could be talking in sleep, acting out dreams or sleepiness during the day
- Difficulty swallowing
“Daily activities become increasingly difficult and there may be further health problems, such as an injury after a fall or a chest infection caused by accidentally inhaling food,” adds the NHS.
Can Lewy body dementia be treated?
While no current treatments can slow or stop the progression of disease, there are therapies to ease the symptoms of LBD.
According to the Michael J. Fox Foundation, for memory and thinking problems, medications that were originally developed for Alzheimer’s disease, are commonly prescribed.
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“These drugs won’t bring back memory and thinking, but they can boost what functions remain and help with behavioural problems and hallucinations,” notes the health body.
In some people with hallucinations (when hallucinations are frightening or threaten safety, for example), additional treatment may be necessary, adds the health site.
In addition to medicine, there are a number of therapies and practical measures that can help make life easier for someone with dementia.
For example, psychological therapies, such as cognitive stimulation (activities and exercises are designed to improve memory, problem solving skills and language ability), may delay the severity of symptoms, according to the NHS.
Speech and language therapy may also help to improve communication or swallowing problems, says the health site.
Other tips include:
- Occupational therapy to identify problem areas in everyday life, such as getting dressed, and help make life easier
- Physiotherapy to help with movement
- Relaxation techniques, such as massage, and music or dance therapy
- Social interaction, leisure activities and other dementia activities, such as memory cafes (drop-in sessions for people with memory problems and their carers to get support and advice)
- Home modifications, such as removing trip hazards, ensuring the home is well lit, and adding grab bars and handrails
You can also share experiences and use tips from others who are living with dementia.
To learn more about the resources available, it may be helpful to get in touch with a support group, such as The Lewy Body Society, the Alzheimer’s Society or Dementia UK.
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