Lewy body dementias are the second most common form of degenerative dementia after Alzheimer’s disease, but are markedly less well known in comparison. They also have very different symptoms to Alzheimer’s disease, including relatively unaffected memory, vivid hallucinations, and Parkinson’s-esque traits. They can be hard for doctors to diagnose, and like with other forms of dementia, there is currently no cure. Treatments are available to mitigate memory loss, but antipsychotics that are commonly used to manage hallucinations are actually harmful in Lewy body dementias. Concerns have been raised that this lack of awareness of Lewy body dementias has led to misdiagnosis and patients being put on the wrong treatments, which can cause them harm. The combination of symptoms and lack of general awareness takes a particular toll on both individuals and carers. A new set of comprehensive guidelines are now being published to improve knowledge, diagnosis, and management of this disease.
Prof. Clive Ballard, Professor of Age-Related Disease & Executive Dean of the Medical School, University of Exeter
Dr Zuzana Walker, Reader in Psychiatry of the Elderly, UCL