It can be hard to learn that a beloved parent has been diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia (LBD). But science and medicine are making constant strides in the fight against this disorder and others that impact elderly care. The prognosis might be better than you think.
Who is most at risk?
Men are at higher risk than women for LBD, though the disease does attack women as well. Women who have had one or more of their ovaries removed before the age of 45 are at higher risk than those who have not.
People over 65 are at higher risk. LBD is a Parkinsonian disease, meaning it has symptoms in common with Parkinson’s. That means that a patient can have Parkinson’s and LBD simultaneously. And patients already diagnosed with Parkinson’s have a higher risk for LBD.
There is a hereditary aspect to LBD. That means, if one or more relatives of your parent has LBD, he or she is at higher risk of getting it.
How to deal with hallucinations
One of the most common and also troubling features of Lewy Body Dementia is waking hallucinations. Very often, the patient sees children or short adults or animals. These hallucinations can be nightmarish, if the patient is scared. The secret to caring for an LBD patient is to keep him feeling safe and positive. Here are some tips:
Acknowledge the hallucination. You were probably brought up not to lie, especially to your parents. So this can be tough. However, experts agree that you should not argue with your parent about what he sees. Don’t say, “You’re imagining all that.”
Co-create the hallucination. Elderly care specialists report that the hallucinations of LBD are malleable. That means you may be able to recraft the hallucination in the way you respond to it. For instance, if mom sees an intruder in the kitchen, you can say, “Oh, yeah, I saw that guy yesterday. He’s harmless.” The key is to diffuse the patient’s anxiety.
Interact with the hallucination. You can walk in the direction of the hallucination, which will be the direction your parent is facing. As you walk forward, say “I need you all to leave.” Also encourage your mother or father to interact positively but firmly toward the intruders, by asking them to go away now.
Ask your mother or father to describe the hallucination in as much detail as possible. Again, this might seem dishonest or disrespectful, but it is not. By understanding what your loved one sees, you get a better idea how to deal with it or disburse it.
Remain calm yourself
It’s very important for caregivers of LBD patients to remain serene themselves, no matter how embroidered a hallucination becomes. Patience and optimism are essential to keeping the patient’s hallucinations from becoming a source of anxiety.
Above all things, you want your mother or father to keep trusting you. To maintain that trust, it will be important not to deny the hallucinations, but to keep them in the neutral to positive range. Home care agencies that specialize in providing home-based elderly care to people over 65 with impairments can help your loved one cope.
In conclusion, Lewy Body Dementia is a serious disorder, but it is progressive. When diagnosed in its early stages, LBD gives you time to adjust and make a plan for your beloved parent. Do your research. Learn how to deflect and adapt to hallucinations, and stay optimistic. By doing so, you can preserve a loving and positive relationship with your mother or father.