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Dementia with Lewy Bodies


Dementia with Lewy bodies is caused by the degeneration and death of nerve cells in the brain.


The name comes from the presence of abnormal structures, called Lewy bodies, which develop inside nerve cells. It is thought that these may contribute to the death of the brain cells.


People who have dementia with Lewy bodies tend to see things (visual hallucinations).


They may also experience stiffness or shakiness, and their condition tends to fluctuate quite rapidly, often from hour to hour or day to day.


What are the symptoms?


The symptoms of dementia with Lewy body disease include:

  • Difficulty with concentration and attention
  • Extreme confusion
  • Difficulties judging distances, often resulting in falls.


There are also three cardinal symptoms, two of which must be present in order to make the diagnosis:

  • Visual hallucinations
  • Parkinsonism (tremors and stiffness similar to that seen in Parkinson's disease)
  • Fluctuation in mental state so that the person may be lucid and clear at one time and confused, disoriented and bewildered at other times. Typically this fluctuation occurs over a period of hours or even minutes and is not due to any underlying acute physical illness.


Some people who have Lewy body disease may also experience delusions and/or depression.


For more information visit Alzheimer's Australia's helpsheets on Lewy Body disease.