Treating Lewy Body Dementia: What You Should Know

With the recent publicity that Lewy body dementia has received due to the tragic passing of beloved actor Robin Williams, this formerly little-known form of dementia is more recognizable to the public. As such, there is also a greater interest in understanding the treatment options available for this fast-acting and devastating form of dementia. If someone you care about has been recently diagnosed with Lewy body dementia, you will want to get to know some of these treatment options so that you can lend your loved one your support and assistance. As their primary caregiver, you will want to ensure that they are getting the best treatments and best home health care assistance they can as soon as they are diagnosed.

Cholinesterase Inhibitors For Mental Changes

As you may well know, there are different types of symptoms that occur with Lewy body dementia. For the mental (or cognitive) symptoms of this condition like trouble speaking, memory loss, and mental fuzziness, a class of drugs known as cholinesterase inhibitors may help.

These medications work by affecting the internal chemistry of the brain. A type of enzyme known as cholinesterase exists naturally in the brain and lowers the concentration of a certain neurotransmitter in the brain. These cholinesterase inhibitors work by blocking that enzyme and increasing the concentration of the neurotransmitter so that the brain of a person with dementia may function better.

Your loved one's home health care aide will be able to administer this medication to your loved on with Lewy body dementia and help you monitor whether or not the medications are effective as well as look for any potential side effects.

Neuroleptic Medications for Hallucinations and Behavioral Changes

Sometimes, a person with Lewy body dementia will experience intense hallucinations both while asleep and awake. They can also become agitated, aggressive, and have other major behavioral changes as a result of what is happening inside of their brain.

If these behaviors and hallucinations become unbearable and unmanageable to you and the home health care providers you have helping you, there is a chance that neuroleptic medications (also known as antipsychotics) can help to calm the behaviors and reduce the instance of hallucinations.  However, many people with Lewy body dementia are highly sensitive to these neuroleptic drugs due to the changes in their brain chemistry and function from their disorder.

The sensitivity to neuroleptic drugs can cause them to actually have worsening cognitive abilities (counteracting any help the cholinesterase inhibitors provided), as well as increasing lethargy, and the physical parkinsonism symptoms that people with Lewy body dementia experience, and potentially even causing fatal side effects. Because of this, antipsychotics are often used in very small doses, if at all, and the person taking them needs to be closely monitored for any of these issues.

Now that you know a few of the treatment options available to your loved one with Lewy body dementia, you can be sure that you provide them with the care and support they need going forward. You may also want to work with home health care providers like Argus Home Health Care as well as their other doctors to see if any clinical trials for Lewy body dementia treatments may be appropriate for your loved one to see if they improve your loved one's quality of life.