Each and every year, thousands of American seniors are told they have Parkinson’s disease, but they don’t. For a lot of these individuals, the true diagnosis is a very similar but not as well–known disease: dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB).
Dementia with Lewy bodies affects as many as 1.3 million Americans, according to the Lewy Body Dementia Association (LBDA). And that estimate could be too low, since some individuals who have been inaccurately identified as having Parkinson’s still have not been given the correct diagnosis.
Symptoms for the two diagnoses can be very similar, particularly as they progress, since they exhibit similar root alterations in the brain.
Below are the signs and symptoms of DLB you should be informed about, as reported by the LBDA:
- Worsening dementia – Increasing confusion and minimized attention and executive function are common. Memory impairment might not be evident during the early stages.
- Frequent visual hallucinations – These are typically complicated and detailed.
- Hallucinations of other senses – Touch or hearing are usually the most typical.
- REM sleep behavior disorder – This tends to appear years before the onset of dementia and Parkinson’s.
- Frequent falls and fainting – Includes unexplained loss of consciousness.
- Other psychiatric disturbances – Most of these differ from patient to patient.
Is the correct diagnosis really crucial? Diagnosing DLB promptly and accurately may well mean the difference between life and death, according to Howard I. Hurtig, M.D., Chair, Department of Neurology, Pennsylvania Hospital and Elliott Professor of Neurology. Improperly treating DLB can not only result in serious side effects, but can even exacerbate symptoms and prevent accurate symptom management.
Most of the confusion among doctors comes from the fact that both Parkinson’s disease and DLB fall under the same umbrella of Lewy body dementias.
A significant distinction is in the “one-year rule” associated with cognitive symptoms. Patients with Parkinson’s disease by and large do not present cognitive issues until at least a year after mobility symptoms begin. DLB is typically the exact opposite, with cognitive symptoms showing up first for at least a year.
Complete Care at Home, the leaders in senior home care in Montecito and the surrounding area, offers high-quality home care services for seniors with Parkinson’s, LBD, and a variety of other conditions of aging. Contact us at 805-727-3445 to set up a complimentary in-home assessment or to find out more about how our experts in home care Montecito and surrounding area families rely on can assist your loved one at home.