Degenerative conditions are known to affect aging seniors. Three brain disorders that share similar characteristics and are prevalent among the elder populations include Lewy body dementia (LBD), Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. All three of these brain diseases gradually take over the sufferer’s cognitive abilities, leading to difficulties with thinking, reasoning and/or movement. Fortunately, those affected by these conditions can live at home safely with effective memory care services.
Lewy body dementia affects 1.3 million seniors in the US. LBD is commonly seen as the third most common type of dementia.
Parkinson’s disease will rob the health of one million seniors in the US by 2020. Each year, about 60,000 people in the US are given the fateful diagnoses of Parkinson’s disease.
Five million Americans live in the grips of Alzheimer’s disease, making this disease the most predominant form of dementia.
Lewy body dementia is a type of dementia that attacks the brain. An exorbitant buildup of Lewy bodies gives rise to LBD. Alpha-synuclein proteins are components of Lewy bodies; when the brain abnormally processes these proteins, it can lead to brain disorders, such as LBD. Plaques and tangles are also found in the brains of individuals diagnosed with LBD.
Parkinson’s disease, as a neurodegenerative disorder, occurs when the specific neurons in the brain that produce dopamine are adversely affected.
Alzheimer’s disease causes the nerve cells in the brain to degenerate and perish. As brain cells die, cognitive functions gradually decline. Researchers suspect an overabundance of plaques and tangles in the brain block communications between nerve calls, deprive cells of nutrients and eventually kill off the brain cells in afflicted individuals.
Medical specialists are unable to pinpoint the exact cause of Lewy body dementia. Sufferers without a family history of LBD are known to develop the disease. Even people without genes linked to the disease develop LBD.
Researchers are unable to determine the cause of Parkinson’s disease.
What triggers the onset of Alzheimer’s disease is also unknown. While the vast majority of people living with Alzheimer’s disease are over 65, the disease is far from a normal part of the aging process.
Similarity of Symptoms
The symptoms of LBD may appear similar to those found in Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. The memory loss that occurs in LBD sufferers is less than that which occurs in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Prominent symptoms of LBD include visual hallucinations, delusions and changes in one’s ability to think or reason. In congruence with the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, seniors living with LBD experience hunched postures and issues with balance.
The progression of Parkinson’s disease is gradual. Symptoms that appear over the years include tremors (even while at rest), rigidity in limbs and bradykinesia. Sufferers also experience issues with balance and gait.
Alzheimer’s disease, too, slowly progresses over time. The earliest indication of detrimental changes in the brain is forgetting newly acquired information. Alzheimer’s disease firstly affects the part of the brain responsible for learning, giving medical specialists a clue to the onset of the disease when such memory lapses occur. Plus, as brain cells die, increasingly severe symptoms appear, such as changes in mood and behavior, disorientation, difficulty swallowing and speaking, groundless suspicions of trusted loved ones, including family, caregivers and friends, and worsening confusion about time and place.
Testing for any form of dementia, including LBD, is largely inconclusive. Diagnoses for LBD are normally based on clinical findings, meaning medical specialists use their professional judgement to explain symptoms.
Like LBD, Parkinson’s disease is rather difficult to accurately diagnose. Doctors rely on diagnostic tests and symptoms for clues to the disease, especially when it is in its early phases. Physicians are often the first to conclude a patient is experiencing Parkinson’s disease. A neurologist, however, will consider the diagnosis based on symptoms, like shaking, slow movement and issues with falls, if they occur over a period of time.
Alzheimer’s, like the above, cannot be accurately diagnosed without a post-mortem examination of the brain. Physicians are, however, able to correctly diagnose Alzheimer’s disease in living patients about 90 percent of the time.
A cure is unavailable for those suffering with Lewy body dementia. The brain cells lost by LBD do not naturally regenerate, and treatments do not currently exist to prevent damage to the nerve cells. Treatments rather focus on addressing symptoms of LBD. Medications are prescribed to help with sleep disorders, depression and behavioral issues.
Parkinson’s disease cannot be reversed. Its symptoms may only be managed. Medications, surgical therapies and lifestyle changes, such as getting adequate rest and exercise, help alleviate some troubling symptoms.
Alzheimer’s disease has no known cure. Research is continually performed. Recent developments in treatment offer to slow the progression of the Alzheimer’s (though not halt it) and allow those plagued with the disease an improved quality of life. Currently, researchers are tasked with discovering ways to prevent the disease, delay its onset and treat existing symptoms.
An aging loved one who displays symptoms of dementia, like lapses in memory, difficulty grasping place and time or challenges with gait, requires constant attention. Keeping a senior afflicted with any type of dementia safe at all times may require in-home assistance, specifically memory care services. Professional caregivers from Assisting Hands Home Care offer those affected by these conditions constant supervision and help with the activities of daily living. Our comprehensive senior care services include help with transportation, meal planning, grooming and fall prevention.
Assisting Hands Home Care’s professional caregivers are specifically trained to care for individuals with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Caregivers compassionately assist care recipients who are apt to wander due to dementia, who are unable to cook or bathe, and who find comfort in pleasant companionship. Professional caregivers also remind afflicted seniors to take their medications.
Our dementia and Alzheimer’s in-home caregivers are insured and bonded to provide families with peace of mind. Assisting Hands Home Care representatives meet with families and their elderly loved one to develop an ideal care plan that best meets the senior’s non-medical needs. As a well-respected senior home care agency, Assisting Hands Home Care dependably serves families and elders in Naperville and DuPage County, Illinois.
Important Notice: The information provided on this blog are not intended to replace medical diagnosis and treatment. You should seek professional medical assistance concerning any health related issues.