Lewy Body Dementia (LBD) is a condition where a person develops the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease dementia in addition to the symptoms of Lewy body dementia. Sometimes misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s disease, LBD is caused by abnormal microscopic protein deposits that accumulate in the brain and interfere with normal brain function. The result is a slow deterioration of thought processes.
Because there is no cure, treatment for LBD is about symptom management. If you have LBD, live alone, and want to remain independent for as long as possible, it’s important to establish a plan that will help you to care for yourself. Here are nine ways to live well with LBD:
Be Informed. The more you know about LBD, the better. Make sure your doctor answers all your questions. Visit the Lewy Body Dementia Association’s website at www.lbda.org and learn everything you can about this condition. Get information about resources and supportive services in your area for people with LBD.
Establish A Support Group. Let your friends and family know you have LBD and will need their support. Ask them to check in with you regularly to make sure everything is okay. Find people nearby who you can call if something goes wrong. Joining a self-help group in your area will help you to feel less alone and more connected to those facing the same challenges as you.
Relieve Stress. Regular exercise is a very effective way to reduce stress and stay fit, whether it’s cruising a shopping mall, playing golf or visiting the gym. Taking a nap during the day can also be quite relaxing, especially if you have insomnia.
Recognize and Treat Depression. Depression is a common but treatable symptom of LBD. Mood-elevating medications prescribed by your physician can help you to maintain a positive state of mind.
Play Games. Exercise your brain daily to keep mental processes clear and sharp. Work crossword puzzles, play chess or study a new language. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as it involves focused thinking and is something you enjoy.
Get an Alert Device. With a medical alert bracelet or necklace, you can summon immediate emergency help. These devices can also provide important medical information for emergency medical personnel.
Get Legal Affairs in Order. Set up a meeting with your lawyer. You might want to draw up a living will that states your wishes with regard to health care should you become unable to speak for yourself.
Get a Hobby. Find an activity that you enjoy. Gardening, gourmet cooking, playing a musical instrument, knitting or fishing can all be enjoyable, rewarding and relaxing ways to spend time.
Arrange Outings. Weekly outings with friends or loved ones can provide a refreshing change of scene. Getting out will also help you to feel more connected to other people and to life in general.
Being diagnosed with LBD is a challenge, but you can still enjoy life if you work at it. There are people who have been diagnosed with LBD who have experienced very little change in their health from one year to the next. There is always hope, and every case is different.