Lewy Body Dementia may be on the rise
According to Dennis Dickson of the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, the number of cases of Lewy body dementia (LBD) diagnosed by the Florida Brain Bank has had a sharp increase, even surpassing that of vascular dementia. Lewy body is now the second most-common, after Alzheimer’s disease.
Recently I had the opportunity to be on a dementia expert panel at a symposium held at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers. While there, I heard Dickson give an outstanding presentation on LBD. Among the many excellent components of his speech was a true standout moment: He warned that suffering from REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) is something to be on the alert for. It can be a warning sign that LBD is about to knock on the door.
People with LBD are known for acting out their dreams, sometimes violently. This is known as “night terrors.” Experts have noticed that this behavior may present itself a decade or more before any other symptoms appear.
Normally, when a person enters REM sleep, his or her body will remain still, with the exception of rapid eye movement. This is not the case with LBD. The results of this disorder will be kicking, punching, screaming and waking up in a cold sweat, with blankets tossed on the floor. If you notice these signs in your sleep partner and he or she later starts showing signs of dementia, the doctor should be notified of this past sleep behavior. This may help the doctor diagnose the correct type of dementia.
Another interesting fact: With Alzheimer’s disease, the hippocampus of the right temporal lobe almost always shrinks. With LBD this is not the case. This may lead to a way to distinguish between the two diseases.
As far as which gender is most often afflicted with LBD, it appears men are most susceptible by 60 percent — 95 percent of whom are Caucasian.
I am very pleased to see the National Institute of Health has published a free 40-page booklet on LBD. It’s informative and I highly recommend ordering one to learn more about this type of dementia.
You can order your free copy by calling the National Institute on Aging at (800) 438-4380.
For a decade, Gary Joseph LeBlanc was the primary caregiver of his father after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. He can be reached at us41books @bellsouth.net. His books, “Managing Alzheimer’s and Dementia Behaviors,” “While I Still Can” and “Staying Afloat in a Sea of Forgetfullness,” can be found at www.commonsensecaregiving .com.