Dementia is a brain disorder. Synucleinopathies happens when a protein called alpha-synuclein accumulates inside the neurons. The changes in this protein and/or its function have been linked to this, Parkinson’s disease and other disorders although no one really understands the role that this particular protein plays.
Lewy Body Dementia (LBD) is one type of Synucleinopathy. This type involves the protein aggregates called Lewy bodies. Lewy bodies are balloon-like structures that form inside of nerve cells.
Although, according to NINDS, the initial symptoms may vary, but over time, if your client has this disorder, they may develop very similar cognitive, behavioral, physical and sleep-related symptoms. LBD is one of the most common causes of Dementia. Alzheimer’s disease and vascular disease are the other two.
According to the NINDS website, the types of Lewy Body Dementia include:
- Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB),one of the more common forms of progressive dementia. Symptoms such as difficulty sleeping, loss of smell, and visual hallucinations often precede movement and other problems by as long as 10 years, which consequently results in DLB going unrecognized or misdiagnosed as a psychiatric disorder until its later stages. Neurons in the substantia nigra that produce dopamine die or become impaired, and the brain’s outer layer (cortex) degenerates. Many neurons that remain contain Lewy bodies.
Later in the course of DLB, some signs and symptoms are similar to AD and may include memory loss, poor judgment, and confusion. Other signs and symptoms of DLB are similar to those of Parkinson’s disease, including difficulty with movement and posture, a shuffling walk, and changes in alertness and attention. Given these similarities, DLB can be very difficult to diagnose. There is no cure for DLB, but there are drugs that control some symptoms. The medications used to control DLB symptoms can make motor function worse or exacerbate hallucinations.
- Parkinson’s disease dementia (PDD),a clinical diagnosis related to DLB that can occur in people with Parkinson’s disease. PDD may affect memory, social judgment, language, or reasoning. Autopsy studies show that people with PDD often have amyloid plaques and tau tangles similar to those found in people with AD, though it is not understood what these similarities mean. A majority of people with Parkinson’s disease develop dementia, but the time from the onset of movement symptoms to the onset of dementia symptoms varies greatly from person to person. Risk factors for developing PDD include the onset of Parkinson’s-related movement symptoms followed by mild cognitive impairment and REM sleep behavior disorder, which involves having frequent nightmares and visual hallucinations.
Since elderly caregivers believe that With Age Comes Respect, understanding the various forms of Synucleinopathies will help you to perform your job better.