What are the seven stages of Lewy body dementia?
Lewy body dementia (LBD) or dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) is associated with protein deposits in the brain that cause disruptions in the normal functioning of the brain. Diagnosing the disease is extremely tough because its symptoms may resemble other brain diseases. DLB often starts with difficulty moving your body. Within a year, patients may start to have thinking and memory problems that are similar to those in Alzheimer’s disease along with changes in behavior and hallucinations. The seven stages of LBD are as follows
- Stage one: Absolutely normal stage
- Stage two: Very mild symptoms
- Difficult or impossible to notice these minor symptoms
- Mild forgetfulness (forgetting names or having trouble locating familiar objects)
- Patients may be able to continue with their daily works and daily activities
- Stage three: Symptoms are still mild and may include
- Stage four: Patients may usually have confirmed diagnosis at this stage. Symptoms are moderate and they include
- Choking, difficulty swallowing, aspiration and excessive drooling, which are the most common symptoms
- Patients often experience tremors and difficulty speaking
- Life-disrupting forgetfulness
- Difficulty performing daily responsibilities
- High risk of falls
- Require continuous supervision
- Increased daytime sleeping, but with less hallucinations
- High risk for potential health problems
- Stage five: Symptoms are usually moderately severe
- Significant memory loss and may usually struggle with daily activities
- Significant confusion, disorientation and may no longer be able to live alone
- Fever is common and patients are at a high risk of infections and skin diseases
- Almost 24-hours supervision may be required
- Cannot perform simple tasks
- Constant delusions and patients may also become increasingly paranoid and confused more often
- Require assistance for eating and self-care
- Stage six: This usually lasts for 2.5 years. Severity in symptoms is mostly increased
- Urine and bowel incontinence are the most common in this stage
- Patients usually lose their ability to speak
- Patients may only be able to recover memories from early life
- Require high level of support to live comfortably
- Worsened memory loss, difficulty recognizing family members and some personality changes???????
- Stage seven: Very severe symptoms. Stage seven typically lasts for 1.5 to 2.5 years
- In this final stage communication is limited and physical systems may also decline
- Patients are unable to walk and individuals in late-stage dementia require extensive assistance with life’s activities and often need round-the-clock support
How is Lewy body dementia treated?
- Acetyl cholinesterase inhibitors: These work by increasing the levels of a chemical called acetylcholine in the brain, which improve the ability of the brain cells to send signals to each other
- Memantine: This works by blocking the effects of a large amount of a chemical in the brain called glutamate. It's suitable for those who cannot take acetyl cholinesterase inhibitors
- Other drugs:
- Dopar and Laradopa (levodopa) may improve movement problems or rigid limbs.
- Melatonin or Klonopin (clonazepam) may ease sleep problems.
- Antipsychotics such as haloperidol may help with behavior changes, but they can cause serious side effects and should be monitored and avoided whenever possible.
- Antidepressants are usually prescribed for mood fluctuations.
- Occupational therapy, speech therapy, physiotherapy, swallowing therapy, psychological therapies and relaxation techniques with increased social interaction may help patients.
Is Lewy body dementia a fatal disease?
Lewy body dementia (LBD) is usually a progressive fatal disease. It gets worse over time and that shortens lifespan. The average lifespan after diagnosis is between 8 and 12 years. However, this is highly variable, and some people may live much longer than this with proper care and symptomatic treatment.
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