Jul 31, 2023 11:00:00 AM | 9 Min Read

Parkinson's Disease vs. Lewy Body Dementia: What You Need to Know

Posted By Vista Springs
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Parkinson's Disease vs. Lewy Body Dementia: What You Need to Know

We understand that living with Parkinson's disease (PD) or Lewy body dementia (LBD) can be challenging for you and your loved one. However, there are critical differences between the two states, mainly because these conditions are neurodegenerative disorders that can cause similar symptoms, including movement problems, cognitive decline, and changes in mood and behavior.

That’s why this article will provide helpful information and resources about both conditions and some key facts for assisted care living professionals. Keep reading.

Parkinson's Disease and Lewy Body Dementia: Overview

What is Parkinson's Disease?

  • Parkinson's disease is a progressive neurological disorder that affects movement
  • It is caused by a decrease in dopamine production in the brain
  • Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps to control movement
  • The symptoms of PD typically develop gradually over time and can vary from person to person

Common Symptoms Of Parkinson's Disease

  • Tremors: Involuntary shaking of the hands, arms, legs, face, or head
  • Stiffness: Increased muscle tone that can make it difficult to move
  • The slowness of movement: Bradykinesia is when is difficult for people to initiate movements, such as getting out of a chair or starting to walk
  • Postural instability: Difficulty maintaining balance and coordination
  • Other symptoms: Fatigue, depression, anxiety, sleep problems, and cognitive decline

What is Lewy Body Dementia?

  • Lewy body dementia is a type of dementia that is characterized by the presence of Lewy bodies in the brain
  • Lewy bodies are abnormal protein deposits that can damage nerve cells
  • The symptoms of LBD typically develop gradually over time and can vary from person to person

Common Symptoms Of Lewy Body Dementia

  • Visual hallucinations: Seeing things that are not there
  • Delusions: False beliefs
  • Fluctuations in cognitive function: The person's cognitive function may fluctuate daily or within the same day
  • Other symptoms: Memory loss, difficulty thinking, problems with attention and concentration, changes in mood and behavior, sleep problems, and falls

Parkinson's Disease and Lewy Body Dementia: Similarities and Differences

PD and LBD’s Similarities

PD and LBD’s Differences

  • As previously mentioned, PD and LBD are neurodegenerative disorders, which means that they cause the death of nerve cells in the brain
  • Both conditions can cause movement problems, such as tremors, stiffness, and slowness of movement
  • Both illnesses can cause cognitive problems, such as memory loss and difficulty thinking clearly
  • PD and LBD can be diagnosed with medical history, physical and neurological exams, and brain imaging tests
  • Lewy bodies are abnormal protein deposits found in people with PD and LBD brains. However, Lewy bodies are more common in people with LBD than those with PD
  • Hallucinations and delusions: People with LBD are more likely to experience hallucinations and delusions than those with PD. These are often visual hallucinations, such as seeing people or animals that are not there.
  • Changes in mood and behavior: People with LBD are more likely to experience changes in mood and behavior than people with PD. These changes can include apathy, depression, anxiety, and irritability.

 

How Can PD and LBD be Treated?

Treatment for Parkinson's Disease

Treatment for Lewy Body Dementia

The main goal of treatment for PD is to improve the symptoms and maintain a good quality of life. Treatment options include:

  • Medications: Some medications can help to improve the symptoms of PD. These medications work by increasing dopamine levels in the brain.
  • Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be an option for people with PD. Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a surgical procedure involving implanting brain electrodes. The electrodes deliver electrical impulses to the brain, which can help improve PD symptoms.
  • Physical therapy: Physical therapy can help people with PD to maintain their range of motion and improve their balance and coordination
  • Occupational therapy: Occupational therapy can help people with PD to learn how to adapt to their symptoms and perform everyday tasks
  • Support groups: Support groups can provide people with PD and their families with emotional support and information

The main goal of treatment for LBD is to manage the symptoms and improve the quality of life. Treatment options include:


  • Medications: Many medications assist in managing the symptoms of LBD. These medications work by targeting different aspects of the disease.
  • Therapy: Therapy permits people with LBD to cope with the disease's symptoms and improve their quality of life
  • Support groups: Support groups can provide people with LBD and their families with emotional support and information

 

How Can Assisted Living Help?

Assisted care providers aid with activities of daily living (ADLs), provide cognitive support, and offer behavioral support. Read on to learn about its challenges, as well as its benefits.

What are the Challenges of Living with PD or LBD in Assisted Living?

Some unique challenges can be faced by seniors and their families living with PD or LBD in an assisted care setting. These challenges can include:

  • Communication challenges: People with PD or LBD may have difficulty communicating their needs. This can be frustrating for the person with the condition and their caregivers.
  • Behavioral challenges: People with PD or LBD may experience behavioral changes, such as apathy, depression, anxiety, hallucinations, delusions, and sleep disturbances. These changes can be challenging to manage in an assisted care living setting.
  • Caregiving challenges: Caring for someone with PD or LBD can be physically and emotionally demanding. Assisted care living can provide much-needed relief for caregivers.

What are the Benefits of Living with PD or LBD in Assisted Living?

There are also some benefits to living with PD or LBD in assisted care living. These benefits can include:

  • A safe and supportive environment: Assisted care living can provide a safe and supportive environment for people with both conditions. This can help to reduce the risk of falls and injuries, and it can also give a sense of community.
  • Personalized care: Assisted care providers can provide customized care to meet the needs of people with PD or LBD. This improves their quality of life and maintains their independence.
  • Respite for caregivers: Assisted care living can provide much-needed pause for caregivers. This can help to reduce caregiver stress and burnout.

Finally, if you or a loved one is living with PD or LBD, assisted living can be a valuable resource. At Vista Springs, we offer assisted living services to help people with these conditions maintain their independence and quality of life. Talk to your doctor or a trusted healthcare professional to learn more about assisted living. 

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Topics: All About Assisted Living, Memory Care

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