What Is Lewy Body Dementia?

Lewy body dementia (LBD) is the 2nd most common type of progressive dementia after Alzheimer’s disease.

LBD is not a rare disease. It affects more than a million people in the United States alone. Because LBD symptoms may closely resemble other, more commonly known disorders like Alzheimer’s disease, it is widely under-diagnosed.

LBD is an umbrella term for two related diagnoses:

  • A person with dementia with Lewy bodies will develop dementia and other LBD symptoms, one of which may be changes in movement, like a tremor (parkinsonism).
  • With the other form of LBD, people will present first with changes in movement, leading to a Parkinson’s disease diagnosis; over time many will develop dementia years later. This is diagnosed as Parkinson’s disease dementia.

As time passes, people with both diagnoses will develop very similar cognitive, physical, sleep, and behavioral symptoms. The earliest symptoms of dementia with Lewy bodies and Parkinson’s disease dementia are different, but both are due to the same underlying biological changes in the brain.

Is it LBD or something else?

LBD is a multi-system disease and usually requires a comprehensive treatment approach with a collaborative team of physicians and other health care professionals like occupational, physical or speech therapists. Early diagnosis and treatment may extend your quality of life and independence. Many people with LBD enjoy significant lifestyle improvement with a comprehensive treatment approach, and some may even experience little change from year to year.