Dementia: Experiencing visual hallucinations or muscle stiffness could be early signs

Dr Zoe says walking can reduce risk of dementia

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Lewy body dementia, also known as dementia with Lewy bodies, is the second most common type of progressive dementia after Alzheimer’s disease dementia. Prior to the condition taking centrefold a number of unusual clues may indicate an early warning.

Protein deposits, called Lewy bodies, develop in nerve cells in the brain regions involved in thinking, memory and movement (motor control), said the Mayo Clinic.

The health site continued: “Lewy body dementia causes a progressive decline in mental abilities. People with Lewy body dementia may experience visual hallucinations and changes in alertness and attention.

“Other effects include Parkinson’s disease-like signs and symptoms such as rigid muscles, slow movement and tremors.”

Visual hallucinations or seeing things that are not present.

Visual hallucinations occur in up to 80 percent of people with LBD, often early on.

Nonvisual hallucinations, such as hearing or smelling things that are not present, are less common than visual ones but may also occur.

The National Institute for Ageing said: “Some people with LBD may not experience significant movement problems for several years.

“Others may have them early on.

“At first, movement symptoms, such as a change in handwriting, may be very mild and easily overlooked.”

Movement problems may include:

  • Muscle rigidity or stiffness
  • Shuffling walk, slow movement, or frozen stance
  • Tremor or shaking, most commonly at rest
  • Balance problems and repeated falls
  • Stooped posture
  • Loss of coordination
  • Smaller handwriting than was usual for the person
  • Reduced facial expression
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • A weak voice.

Ways to help reduce your risk of developing Lewy body dementia include:

  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet
  • Exercise regularly
  • Interact with others socially
  • Stimulate your mind (read, do crossword puzzles, learn a new language)
  • Decrease stress
  • Keep a regular sleep schedule
  • Don’t smoke (or consider quitting)
  • Drink alcohol in moderation.

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