Lewy body dementia (LBD) is a brain disease similar to its “cousins” Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s in some ways, and very different in others. It is surprisingly common, affecting over 1 million Americans, although it tends to be under-diagnosed, mistaken for other forms of dementia.
Symptoms of LBD
LBD affects the way that a person thinks. It can also affect movement, behavior, and mood. Hallucinations are common in Lewy body dementia, so people can sometimes think they see things that aren’t really there. Walking may become stiff, slow, and challenging. Sleep can become disrupted by physically acting out their dreams. They may yell out or flail their arms or legs about, which can lead to them falling out of bed. It’s very disruptive for them as well as a bed partner. Symptoms tend to fluctuate in severity. It is a progressive disease, so it tends to gradually get worse over time.
Medications Affect People with Lewy Body Dementia Differently
Not all healthcare workers realize that Lewy body dementia can affect the way the brain reacts to certain medications. Talk to your loved one’s doctor and educate yourself about your loved one’s medications. Understand which medications your loved one may be sensitive to, so you can speak up if he or she ends up in the emergency room. The hospital can be a frightening place for people with dementia, and it can provoke behaviors that can be difficult to manage. Some of the medications that hospitals use to help people feel calmer may have the opposite effect on people with Lewy Body dementia.
Prepare for the Unexpected
People with Lewy Body dementia may demonstrate unpredictable behaviors. Medical conditions such as infections or even pain can cause them to become extremely confused and unpredictable. It can help to have emergency information ready at a moment’s notice. This can include:
- A list of the person’s medications and over-the-counter supplements along with all dosages
- A list of allergies and drug sensitivities
- Copies of health insurance cards
- Copies of healthcare advanced directives or living wills
- Contact information for doctors, family members or support people
Take Care of Yourself
Being a caregiver for a family member with Lewy Body Dementia can be physically and emotionally challenging, and exhausting at times. You can expect to feel many different emotions, from pride and satisfaction to impatience, anger or resentment. Your relationship and role with your loved one may change, which can trigger feelings of grief. Some caregivers turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms, like misusing alcohol or drugs, under these conditions. By eating right, sleeping regularly and taking care of your mental health, you can manage the ups and downs. However, when you’re taking care of someone with Lewy Body, it’s hard to do these things alone. It’s important to get help when you need it.
There is Help Available
It is important to reach out for and accept help from others when caregiving for a family member with Lewy Body Dementia. In-home respite care is available through senior home care agencies. A professionally trained and vetted caregiver can come into your home and take care of your loved one while you take care of your own health needs, other responsibilities, or even just take a much-needed break. By taking care of your own needs, you will be in a much better position to meet the needs of your loved one with Lewy body dementia.
If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring a Senior Care in Bridgewater, MA, call the caring staff at Rivers of Hope today at 508-857-0629. Providing Independent, Dependent, and Companion Care Services in Brockton, Boston, Braintree, Avon Randolph, Abington, and the surrounding areas. riversofhopes.com