7 Stages of Lewy Body Dementia

Hpfy Article image

Lewy body dementia (LBD), also known as dementia with Lewy bodies, is the second most common form of progressive dementia after Alzheimer's disease. Diagnosing LBD can be challenging as early signs, and symptoms of this disorder are similar to those of other brain diseases. The symptoms of LBD start slowly and worsen over time. Lewy body dementia may occur alone or in combination with other neurological disorders. 

According to National Institute on Aging (NIA), LBD affects more than 1 million Americans, making it one of the most widespread brain disorders. Lewy body dementia typically occurs in people over 55 and affects more men than women. 

What is Lewy Body Dementia? 

Lewy body dementia is a disease associated with the abnormal accumulation of a protein called alpha-synuclein in the brain. These protein deposits, called Lewy bodies, affect brain chemicals that can lead to issues with thinking, memory, movement, behavior, and mood. 

There are two types of LBD - dementia with Lewy bodies and Parkinson's disease (PD) dementia. Both are caused by the decline of neurotransmitters, dopamine and acetylcholine due to the accumulation of Lewy bodies. Over time, these conditions can cause similar symptoms. The main difference is the timing of when the symptoms begin. 

7 Stages of Lewy Body Dementia  

Lewy body dementia is often untreatable, and the average lifespan after diagnosis is between five to eight years. However, some studies have shown that range to be between two and twenty years depending on how quickly symptoms progress, patient age, and overall health. 

Though LBD symptoms resemble other forms of dementia, such as Alzheimer's disease, there are distinct hallmark symptoms linked with it. These symptoms include visual hallucinations, fluctuating attention, movement disorders, and changes in behavior. Lewy body dementia initially starts with difficulty in mobility, and within a year, patients may have memory problems. The typical progression of Lewy body dementia is categorized into seven stages. 

What Are the Seven Stages of Lewy Body Dementia

Stage 1: Normal behavior and no noticeable changes  

During this stage, the patient shows little to no signs of the disease, and there is no impact on the individual's life. However, MRI or CT scans of the brain may show incidental findings during routine check-ups. An early diagnosis can help to reduce the rate of progression. In rare cases, some patients may experience mood fluctuations or daytime sleeping with hallucinations in stage 1. 

Stage 2: Mild changes  

Although individuals in stage two of LBD show some very mild symptoms, they can go unnoticed. The patient may continue with their daily activities without significant challenges. 

Stage 2 Symptoms

  • Mild forgetfulness (forgetting names or having trouble locating objects they are familiar with) 

Stage 3: Mild but noticeable changes  

At this stage, symptoms may become noticeable. There will be a mild cognitive decline, which increases the risk of falls and can hamper daily activities. 

Stage 3 Symptoms

  • Mild memory loss 
  • Slight forgetfulness  
  • Mild problems with concentration  
  • Increased risk of falls 
  • Problems at the workplace 
  • The trouble with money management 

Stage 4: Mild dementia (the stage of diagnosis) 

Generally, most patients have a confirmed diagnosis by stage 4, as doctors can easily detect cognitive decline. Individuals with LBD will start exhibiting moderate symptoms that can disrupt their daily lives.  

Symptoms 

  • Choking, difficulty swallowing, aspiration, and excessive drooling 
  • Life-disrupting forgetfulness  
  • Difficulty performing daily activities 
  • High risk of falls 
  • Tremors 
  • Increased daytime sleeping, but with fewer hallucinations.  
  • High risk of potential health problems 
  • Increased need for supervision 

Stage 5: Moderate to severe dementia 

Individuals at this point should still be able to recognize family members and friends, but they may have increased trouble recalling past events. Anyone suffering from LBD may need help performing daily tasks during stage 5. 

Symptoms

  • Significant memory loss and constant confusion
  • Struggles with daily activities 
  • Fever and high risk of infections and skin diseases.  
  • Delusions and hallucinations can cause patients to become increasingly paranoid and confused more often 
  • Require assistance while eating and using the bathroom. 
  • Bladder issues  
  • Mood swings 

Stage 6: Severe dementia 

The severe cognitive decline which typically lasts for about 2.5 years. The patient may need a high level of care to live comfortably.  

Symptoms

  • Severe memory loss 
  • Urinary and bowel incontinence  
  • Severe cognitive impairment  
  • Difficulty recognizing family members 
  • Trouble speaking 
  • Delusions  
  • Strong personality changes/mood swings 
  • Wandering and getting lost 

Stage 7: Final stage of the dementia patient  

Generally lasting about 1.5 to 2.5 years, patients with late-stage Lewy body dementia exhibit intense symptoms which require palliative care. The individual will no longer recognize loved ones, and round-the-clock care is necessary during this final stage of LBD. 

Stage 7 Symptoms 

  • Inability to speak, eat and swallow 
  • Loss of bladder/bowel control 
  • Assistance is required for every task 
  • No muscle control 
  • Constant disorientation  
  • Patient is bedridden  

Lewy Body Dementia Treatment  

Unfortunately, LBD is a fatal disease that will worsen over time and shorten the patient's lifespan. Although Lewy body dementia currently cannot be cured, treatments may be able to ease some of the symptoms. A treatment plan may involve medications, relaxation techniques, and therapies such as occupational therapy, speech and swallowing therapy, physical therapy, swallowing therapy, and psychological therapies can go a long way toward helping patients cope with symptoms. 

Finding the right care and support for your loved ones as early as possible is extremely important to improve their quality of life g. Changes to make the home safer and adaptable, tools to make everyday life easier, and social support are also important.   

Top 5 Products To Help With Dementia  

Rehab Store carries a vast selection of dementia products and dementia aids that can help alleviate some of the symptoms and improve the quality of life of the patient and their caregivers. We have products to prevent falls and wandering, assistive devices, and adaptive equipment to make everyday tasks easier. 

Patients with dementia or Alzheimer's disease have special needs and require help with personal care activities, including dining, bathing, dressing, and using the toilet. The right aids for a daily living may be helpful for both patient and the caregiver. Here are some of our top-rated dementia products - 

1. Future Call Picture Care Memory Corded Amplified Phone 

10 picture buttons offer an innovative method of calling family and friends and are particularly beneficial for individuals with impaired memory and cognitive loss. These dementia phones allow one-touch dialing; just lift the receiver and press a photo button to make a call. 

2. Good Grips Weighted Utensils 

 The additional weight provides stability to the hands and helps minimize tremors while eating, offering more independence to dementia patients. Ideal for those with Parkinson's disease, limited hand control, spasticity, or other neurological impairments. 

 

3. SMPL Wander Alert Door Sensor And Alarm Kit 

Designed for the safety of people with dementia who can wander into potentially dangerous areas or away from where they are being monitored. People with Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia may experience confusion or disorientation that may cause them to wander away from their homes in search of something familiar. If you are caring for a loved one with LBD, the SMPL dementia door alarm is an excellent way to keep them safe and limit wandering. 

The door alarm is portable and easy to install, with no Wi-Fi or wiring required, and has a range of 150-250 feet from the sensors. 

4. Essential Medical Power of Red Scoop Dish with Suction Bottom 

Studies have shown that red dinnerware considerably increases eating among individuals with Alzheimer's and Dementia. The Power of Red scoop dish offers a contrast between the table, allowing the user to recognize what they are eating easily. It features a rim and reverses a curve to aid in scooping food onto utensils. It also includes a suction cup base to prevent sliding. 

5. Silverts Womens Dementia Alzheimers Anti Strip Jumpsuits 

Styled to look great and can help solve compulsive stripping issues with dementia and Alzheimer's patients. The anti-strip jumpsuit has a strong weave and a long heavy-duty back zipper. Ties at the back of the neck are secured through an anti-strip ring tab, ensuring that your loved one cannot disrobe. The tear-resistant fabric is great for sensitive skin and offers ultimate comfort.

 

There may not be a cure for LBD, but there are certainly ways to treat its symptoms and improve the quality of life for those living with it. It is important to know the type of LBD a person has to tailor a treatment plan and understand the progression of the disease.

Some people with LBD may not experience significant mobility issues for several years, while others may experience difficulty early on. Knowing what to expect can help patients and their families to prepare for changes that may need to be made.

 

Disclaimer: All content found on our website, including images, videos, infographics, and text were created solely for informational purposes. Our reviewed content should never be used for the purpose of diagnosis or treatment of any medical conditions. Content shared on our websites is not meant to be used as a substitute for advice from a certified medical professional. Reliance on the information provided on our website as a basis for patient treatment is solely at your own risk. We urge all our customers to always consult a physician or a certified medical professional before trying or using a new medical product.