Distinguishing LBD from other forms of dementia

Lewy body dementia is one form of dementia for which an early and accurate diagnosis is essential. LBD can progress more quickly than other forms, such as Parkinson’s disease dementia, and those with LBD respond more poorly to certain medications for behavior and movement than those with Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s. New Jersey residents may want to know how to distinguish LBD from other forms.

LBD can develop in one of three ways: as a cognitive, movement or neurological disorder. Those with a memory or cognitive disorder may appear to have Alzheimer’s, but certain symptoms make the distinction clear. They include unpredictable levels of cognitive ability, attention and alertness. Alzheimer’s is characterized by problems with language, calculation, abstract thinking and judgment as well as anxiety and depression.

Those who start out with a movement disorder are often mistaken to have Parkinson’s but will later develop dementia and other symptoms that point to LBD. Patients who exhibit neuropsychiatric symptoms, such as hallucinations, behavioral issues and difficulty with complex mental activities, are relatively rare. Eventually, all three forms develop similar features.

LBD can be easily distinguished from vascular dementia, which is characterized by a series of small strokes that deprive the brain of oxygen. Vascular dementia results in the patient walking with rapid, shuffling steps, laughing or crying inappropriately and having difficulty following instructions.

If someone with LBD is misdiagnosed and put on medications that result in dangerous, permanent side effects, he or she may have grounds for a medical malpractice claim. It must be shown that there was a doctor-patient relationship and that the patient followed all the doctor’s instructions. More importantly, the victim must show that the doctor neglected an objective standard of care. This is where a lawyer and a network of medical professionals may come in to present evidence in court.

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