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Skip to 0 minutes and 7 secondsSo dementia is an umbrella term I understand for many different conditions and diseases. Could you tell us a little bit more about that? Well, let's first of all start with dementia as a sort of term. I think it is quite difficult for people to understand. But essentially it's a syndrome. And what I mean by that-- it's a condition which is describing that your brain function is not working so well. So traditionally, people think of memory function going down such as short-term memory is not so good in people with dementia. But also, other domains could be affected as well. So your decision-making, your ability, perhaps, to see things in space, and orientate yourself, and a whole host of other things.

Skip to 0 minutes and 46 secondsSo dementia is really just a term to describe-- your brain is not working so well. Now, dementia is caused by a lot of different things. And probably there's over 100 different causes of what we call neurodegenerative dementia. Now, the most common one that people are probably familiar with is Alzheimer's disease. And then after that there's other condition such as vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies, frontotemporal dementia, and then a whole host of other conditions as well, which can affect your brain function and give rise to dementia syndrome. So what are the typical symptoms of say dementia with Lewy bodies?

Skip to 1 minute and 23 secondsWell, dementia with Lewy bodies-- that's one particular form of dementia-- probably, the second to third most common type of dementia in older people. Now, it's probably a little bit different from Alzheimer's where you'd probably see a much more dominant memory problem whereas, you perhaps don't get quite the same in dementia with Lewy bodies. But there's a number of core symptoms. People with dementia with Lewy bodies often experience complex visual hallucinations. So that might be seeing animals, children, people-- for example. They also might have marked variations in their cognitive function. So sometimes appearing quite alert and lucid and then other times very confused. On the final main core symptom is a tendency to have a degree of Parkinsonism.

Skip to 2 minutes and 8 secondsSo they might have slowness of movement or tremor. And then there's a whole host of other symptoms, which are often associated with dementia with Lewy bodies such as sleep problems or a condition called REM sleep behaviour disorder.

Dementia syndrome and DLB symptoms

In this video, Dr. John Paul Taylor describes the core symptoms of DLB. Some of these symptoms have a clear impact on how we care and connect. These are:

  • Visual hallucinations.

  • Fluctuating attention.

  • Shuffling gait and parkinsonian symptoms.

There are some other strongly suggestive features of DLB, including:

  • Sleep disturbance (known as REM Sleep Behaviour Disorder), which can be a good early indicator. This involves vivid dreams, thrashing around in bed and shouting.

  • Sensitivity and intolerance to certain types of medications called antipsychotics.

  • Apathy is also a related symptom and depression can be quite common as well.

With funding from the Alzheimer’s Society, Newcastle University has established a new doctoral training centre to conduct more research into the lesser known symptoms of DLB. The centre is based at the Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre, which is a partnership between Newcastle University and Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

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Dementia Care: Staying Connected and Living Well

Newcastle University

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