The Whitworths of Arizona, bringing science to you in everyday language.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Lewy Body Phrase for 10-22: Care Partner Care

A person living with dementia (PlwD) who has a healthy, rested, happy care partner will have fewer behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) than one whose care partner is sick, overburdened, tired, or irritable.

A PlwD mirrors care partner stress as a negative emotion of their own and, without impulse control, acts it out.

Martha is tired, her back hurts and she's worried about the car that needs repairs. Dave picks up on Martha's stress, identifies it as his own residual fear that his life is disappearing, and begins to shadow her everywhere she goes.

Short term solution: Martha needs to take a few hours of respite so that her stress level will decrease. With less stress of her own, Dave will also be less stressed, he won't feel so fearful and his shadowing will decrease.

Log term solution: Martha may need to hire or ask for help so that she can get the rest she needs, see a doctor about her back, join a caregiver support group and/or talk to a financial guide about budgets. See our many blogs about caregiver care or read about it in our books.

For more information about Lewy body disorders, read our books:
A Caregivers’ Guide to Lewy Body Dementia
Managing Cognitive Issues in Parkinson's and Lewy Body Dementia

 Helen and James Whitworth are not doctors, lawyers or social workers. As informed caregivers, they share the information here for educational purposes only. It should never be used instead of a professional's advice.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Lewy Body Word for 10-21: Hallucinations

Hallucinations: seeing, hearing or feeling something that isn't really there.

With LBD: Well formed visual hallucinations often appear before thinking abilities fade.
With Parkinson's: Similar hallucinations appear well after motor symptoms but while thinking is still intact.
  • At first, the person believes the care partner's explanation that the hallucinations are simple Lewy playing tricks again. Earl said, "I know the little army men aren't real but they are fascinating."
  • As abstract thinking fades, Earl will begin to believe his little men are real. As with delusions, this belief cannot be changed.
With other dementias: Hallucinations can occur, usually after thinking abilities fade.

Delusions: Once thinking fades, hallucinations are often combined with delusions into elaborate dramas that the person truly believes.

Best reaction: Empathetic communication (tomorrow's blog)

For more information about Lewy body disorders, read our books:
A Caregivers’ Guide to Lewy Body Dementia
Managing Cognitive Issues in Parkinson's and Lewy Body Dementia

Helen and James Whitworth are not doctors, lawyers or social workers. As informed caregivers, they share the information here for educational purposes only. It should never be used instead of a professional's advice.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Lewy Body Word for 10-20: Delusions

Delusions: Dramas brought about by faulty thinking often combined with residual emotions. Delusions show up early with LBD because thinking fades earlier too.

Dave see his wife on the phone:
  • This triggers his residual fear of abandonment. 
  • To make sense of this fear, his dementia-damaged-brain offers the delusion that that she is talking to her lover. 
  • Now, also angry, he accuses her.
  • When she tries to explain, he becomes even angrier.
Considering the validity of a thought requires abstract thinking. Without it, the delusion becomes Dave's truth. Consider how you would feel if someone tried to tell you that something was not the way you knew at the very core of your being that it was. This is how strong delusions are. Explaining, defending or arguing DO NOT work.

For more information about Lewy body disorders, read our books:
A Caregivers’ Guide to Lewy Body Dementia
Managing Cognitive Issues in Parkinson's and Lewy Body Dementia

Helen and James Whitworth are not doctors, lawyers or social workers. As informed caregivers, they share the information here for educational purposes only. It should never be used instead of a professional's advice.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Lewy Body Phrase for 10-19: Non-Drug Options

Non-drug options should be tried first before behavior management drugs. They:
  • Are generally safer than behavior management drugs and often equally efficient.
  • Often take more care partner time and effort to use than popping a pill.
  • Can provide opportunities for care partner and loved one togetherness.
  • Can be used alone or in combination with behavior management drugs, which often results in the need for fewer drugs.
Non-drug options includes the following and much, much more:
  • care partner care
  • occupational therapy
  • infection control
  • relaxation methods
  • music and rhythm therapy
  • aromatherapy and massage
Tomorrow: Rehabilitation therapies
    For more information about Lewy body disorders, read our books:
    A Caregivers’ Guide to Lewy Body Dementia
    Managing Cognitive Issues in Parkinson's and Lewy Body Dementia

    Helen and James Whitworth are not doctors, lawyers or social workers. As informed caregivers, they share the information here for educational purposes only. It should never be used instead of a professional's advice.

    Wednesday, October 18, 2017

    Lewy Body Phrase for 10-18: Drugs and Sensitivity

    No drug can cure LBD but some can treat its symptoms.
    • Dementia drugs work to improve cognition and other LBD symptoms.
    LBD can cause a person to be super-sensitive to certain drugs.
    • Which drugs are "Lewy-sensitive" for each person is very individual.
    • Lewy-sensitive drugs act as though the person had a much larger dose than normal, with often severe results.
    Behavior management drugs are often Lewy-sensitive. Use very carefully if at all.

    Drugs for other symptoms should be reviewed for Lewy-sensitivity before use. (LBDA Medications Glossary)

    All drugs should be started in the smallest dose possible, increased until they do the job or cause problems, and stopped when no longer needed.

    For more information about Lewy body disorders, read our books:
    A Caregivers’ Guide to Lewy Body Dementia
    Managing Cognitive Issues in Parkinson's and Lewy Body Dementia

    Helen and James Whitworth are not doctors, lawyers or social workers. As informed caregivers, they share the information here for educational purposes only. It should never be used instead of a professional's advice.

    Tuesday, October 17, 2017

    Lewy Body Word for 10-17: BPSD

    BPSD stands for behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia. BPSD are triggered by stressful irritants that can be:
    • physical, as with an infection.
    • external, as with an overheard phone conversation.
    • perceptual, as with the person's perceived view of that their spouse is "calling their lover."
    • emotional, as with the fear the perception of the call generates.
    • a combination of these, as with:
      • frustration at being unable to explain the discomfort of an infection
      • anger at being "lied to" by the spouse whose explanation is different from the person's hard-wired belief.
    BPSD are often rational behaviors based on incorrect information derived from faulty thinking. They include but are not limited to:
    • agitation, anxiety and irritation
    • threatening, aggressive or disruptive physical or verbal behavior
    • delusions, usually of infidelity, abandonment or theft
    • depression and withdrawal
    • hallucinations
    • paranoia
    • repetitive activity
    For more information about Lewy body disorders, read our books: A Caregivers’ Guide to Lewy Body Dementia Managing Cognitive Issues in Parkinson's and Lewy Body Dementia
    Helen and James Whitworth are not doctors, lawyers or social workers. As informed caregivers, they share the information here for educational purposes only. It should never be used instead of a professional's advice.

    Monday, October 16, 2017

    Lewy Body Word of the Month for 10-16: Stress

    When dealing with dementia, there is lots of stress. Each person has a stress threshold, the amount of stress they can handle without calling in the reserves. Any illness, including dementia, stresses the body which lowers this threshold.

    The body gives managing stress overload high priority. When it overflows one's threshold, the body diverts resources from lower priority tasks, such as managing dementia symptoms, to deal with this overload.

    Stressors are anything that causes physical, emotional, or environmental discomfort or distress.

    You can often decrease dementia symptoms (or the symptoms of any disease) by decreasing their stressors.

    For more information about Lewy body disorders, read our books:
    A Caregivers’ Guide to Lewy Body Dementia
    Managing Cognitive Issues in Parkinson's and Lewy Body Dementia

    Helen and James Whitworth are not doctors, lawyers or social workers. As informed caregivers, they share the information here for educational purposes only. It should never be used instead of a professional's advice.