Understanding the Symptoms & Progression of Lewy Body Dementia

Understanding the Symptoms & Progression of Lewy Body Dementia

Many people are unaware of the signs and symptoms of Lewy Body Dementia. This progressive form of dementia is considered the second most common dementia type right after Alzheimer’s disease. This dementia disorder gets its name due to the protein deposits called Lewy bodies that accumulate on nerve cells present in certain regions of the brain. Typically, those affected brain regions are those that are essential in memory, thinking, and movement, also termed motor control.

What Causes Lewy Body Dementia?

Doctors still don’t know everything that may be the cause of Lewy body dementia as of yet. It has been linked to probable hereditary genetic factors. People with a family history of Lewy body dementia do have an increased risk. Other possible causative risk factors include age 60 and above and being male.

How Is Lewy Body Dementia Diagnosed?

There is no definitive test that can diagnose Lewy body dementia. Like Alzheimer’s disease, Lewy body dementia can only be positively diagnosed after death during an autopsy that shows the protein deposits in the brain.

These deposits are also linked to Parkinson’s disease, and the tangled plaques found in the brains of Alzheimer’s disease patients are also often seen in the brains of persons suffering from Lewy body dementia.

In general, Lewy body dementia is diagnosed through symptom development and the progressive decline of the patient. Diagnosis depends on a rule-out treatment approach.

Common Symptoms of Lewy Body Dementia

There are a number of symptoms that patients with Lewy Body Dementia often develop. As this disease is progressive in nature, not all patients will develop all of the symptoms.

The hallmark symptoms that distinguish Lewy dementia from Alzheimer’s disease and possibly from Parkinson’s disease is the fast onset development of visual hallucinations and sometimes other hallucination types like auditory (sound – hearing), tactile (touch), or olfactory hallucinations (smell) that may be present.


  • Visual Hallucinations
  • Development of Movement Disorders
  • Cognitive Problems
  • Changes in Autonomic Body Regulation – BP, HR, Metabolism, Bowel Function, etc.
  • Shaking & Tremors
  • Depression and/or Mood Changes or Fluctuations
  • Sleep Issues

Risk Complications of Lewy Body Dementia

Patients with this form of dementia are at greater risk of falls or other injuries, faster progression of the disease, and aggressive behaviors in later stages.

Learn more by calling St. Bernardine Hospice Care in Irvine.