What is the Difference Between Lewy Body Dementia and Parkinson’s Disease

On a yearly basis, a great many American seniors are told they have Parkinson’s disease, but they don’t. For a number of these patients, the actual diagnosis is a very similar but lesser-known disease: Lewy body dementia, sometimes referred to as dementia with Lewy bodies or DLB. If you’re taking care of elderly parents, understanding DLB is crucial.

Dementia with Lewy bodies affects up to 1.3 million Americans, as reported by the Lewy Body Dementia Association (LBDA). That approximation might be too low since some individuals who’ve been incorrectly diagnosed with Parkinson’s still have not been given the correct diagnosis.

Symptoms for Lewy body dementia and Parkinson’s disease can be quite similar, particularly when they progress, given that they exhibit similar root changes in the brain.

Here are the signs and symptoms you should know about, as reported by the LBDA:

  • Worsening dementia – Increasing confusion and reduced attention and executive function are typical. Memory impairment may not be evident in the early stages.
  • Recurrent visual hallucinations – These are commonly complicated and elaborate.
  • Hallucinations of other senses – Touch or hearing are usually the most frequent.
  • REM sleep behavior disorder – This may appear years ahead of the onset of dementia and Parkinson’s.
  • Recurring falls and fainting – Includes undetermined loss in consciousness.
  • Other psychiatric disruptions – These differ from patient to patient.

Is the correct diagnosis really essential? Diagnosing DLB swiftly and properly may possibly 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. Incorrectly treating DLB will not only cause significant negative effects, but can even aggravate symptoms and prevent accurate symptom management.

Some of the confusion among health care professionals comes from the fact that both Lewy body dementia and Parkinson’s disease belong to the same umbrella of Lewy body dementias.

The main difference is in the “one-year rule” associated with cognitive symptoms. Patients with Parkinson’s disease typically do not present cognitive issues until at least a year after movement symptoms begin. DLB is the exact opposite, with cognitive symptoms showing up first for at least a year.

Carolina Hearts Home Care provides high-quality senior home care services in Cheraw and the surrounding area, and respite care services for those taking care of elderly parents. Give us a call at 1-855-277-2005 or fill out our online contact form to arrange for a free home care assessment and to discover more about our dementia home care in Cheraw and other surrounding areas. For more information on the different communities we serve, please visit our Locations Served page.