Treatment - Dementia with Lewy bodies

There is currently no cure for dementia with Lewy bodies. But there are treatments that can help manage the symptoms.

Care plans

Your treatment team will create a care plan. They will assess your current and future health and social care needs.

This is a way of making sure you get the right treatment for your needs.

It involves looking at areas where you may need some help, such as:

  • what support you or your carer need for you to remain as independent as possible, including whether you might need care at home or in a nursing home
  • whether there are any changes that need to be made to your home to make it easier to live in
  • whether you need any financial assistance

Apply for financial support to help pay for the cost of care in a nursing home through the Fair Deal scheme

Information:

Related topic

Carers supports

Medicine

Medicine cannot stop dementia with Lewy bodies getting worse. But for some people it can help reduce some of the symptoms.

Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors

Acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibitors may help improve hallucinations, confusion and sleepiness in some people.

These work by increasing levels of a chemical called acetylcholine in the brain. This improves the ability of the brain cells to send signals to each other.

Common side effects include:

  • feeling and being sick
  • diarrhoea
  • headaches
  • tiredness
  • muscle cramps

Memantine

This medicine is not an AChE inhibitor. It works by blocking the effects of a large amount of a chemical in the brain called glutamate.

Memantine is used for moderate or severe dementia with Lewy bodies. It's suitable for people who cannot take AChE inhibitors.

Side effects can include headaches, dizziness and constipation. These are usually temporary.

Read the information leaflet that comes with your medicine and talk to your GP about possible side effects.

Other medicines

Other medicines that may help control some symptoms of dementia with Lewy bodies include:

  • levodopa – this can help with movement problems. But it can also worsen other symptoms and needs to be carefully monitored by a doctor
  • antidepressants – these may be given if you're depressed
  • clonazepam – this can help if you experience a particular type of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behaviour disorder
  • antipsychotics (such as haloperidol) – these may help with behaviour that's putting you or others at risk of harm. But they can cause serious side effects and should be avoided whenever possible

Support and other therapies

There are some therapies and practical measures that can help make life easier for someone with dementia.

These include:

  • occupational therapy to identify problem areas in everyday life, such as getting dressed
  • speech and language therapy to help improve communication or swallowing problems
  • physiotherapy to help with movement
  • psychological therapies - activities and exercises to improve memory and problem-solving skills
  • relaxation techniques, such as massage, and music or dance therapy
  • social interaction, leisure activities and other dementia activities, such as dementia cafes
  • home modifications, such as removing trip hazards, ensuring the home is well lit and adding grab bars and handrails
  • assistive technologies to promote independence, communication and safety. A Memory and Technology Resource Room can help you identify what assistive technology might work for you
  • Information and advice from the National Dementia Adviser Service

It can also be helpful to get in touch with a support group, such as the Alzheimer Society of Ireland or Understand Together.

End of life and legal issues

If you have been diagnosed with dementia, you might want to make arrangements for your care.

This may include making sure that your wishes are upheld if you're not able to make decisions for yourself.

You may want to consider:

  • creating an advance decision, which makes your treatment preferences known in case you're unable to do this in the future
  • having a plan for where you want to receive treatment as your condition becomes more advanced
  • giving a relative enduring power of attorney, enabling them to make decisions about you if you're unable to

Read more about planning for the future on the Alzheimer Society of Ireland's website


Content supplied by the NHS and adapted for Ireland by the HSE

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This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 123.

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