In the emotional opening scene of “Boss”, a critically acclaimed STARZ original series, Mayor Thomas Kane (played by actor Kelsey Grammer) sits immobilized in an empty warehouse as a neurologist delivers his fate: a diagnosis of Lewy body dementia. The news is devastating, sending the powerful politician into a tailspin that continues throughout the season as he faces mortality, family problems, and medication among other (saucier) things.
Shortly after launching Season 2 last month, Grammer completed two public service announcements for the Lewy Body Dementia Association (LBDA), underscoring the critical need for early recognition, diagnosis, and treatment of this lesser known form of dementia.
While there is gaining public awareness of Alzheimer’s Disease, there remains drastically less awareness for Lewy Body Dementia (LBD). But as savvy elder care professionals we know, education is key to earlier and better diagnosis.
Here are essential facts you need to know about Lewy Body Dementia:
- Lewy body dementia (LBD) is the second most common form of progressive dementia after Alzheimer’s Disease.
- More than 1.3 million Americans have been diagnosed with LBD.
- LBD can have three common presentations: (1) Some individuals show a Parkinson’s-like movement disorder and later develop dementia. (2) Another group of individuals may initially show memory problems similar to Alzheimer’s and later show other characteristics of LBD., or (3) Persons may present with neuropsychiatric symptoms such as hallucinations. Regardless of the initial presentation, over time all three presentations of LBD develop very similar cognitive, physical, sleep and behavioral features, all caused by the presence of Lewy bodies throughout the brain.
- Common symptoms of LBD include: dementia-related problems with memory and thinking, rapid changes in concentration and attention, Parkinson’s-like rigidity, tremors, and shuffling gait, acting out in sleep
- LBD may cause visual hallucinations, such as seeing shapes, colors, people or animals that aren’t there or, more complexly, having conversations with deceased loved ones.
- The symptoms of LBD are treatable. While antipsychotics may be contraindicated for people with LBD, medication can be prescribed for symptoms related to other dementia-relates diseases and offer relief for cognitive, movement and behavioral problems.
To learn more about LBD or find support, visit the Lewy Body Dementia Association at www.lbda.org