Lewy Body Dementia

What Are The Causes & Risk Factors?

Lewy body dementia is caused by abnormal deposits of protein (Lewy bodies) in  different brain regions, as well as the tangles and plaques seen in Alzheimer’s.  This protein is also seen in Parkinson’s disease dementia. Scientists are still not  sure what specifically causes dementia with Lewy bodies. Some risk factors  include:

Caregiver helping woman walk
  • Increasing age. Risk increases after 60.  
  • Sex. More men have the disease than women. 
  • Family History. Risk increases if there are family members with Lewy body  dementia and Parkinson’s disease. However, most people with a diagnosis have  no family history of Lewy body dementia.
  • Diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease or REM sleep behavior disorder.

What Are The Symptoms?


  • Memory problems (but less prominent than Alzheimer’s)

Personality &  Behavior

  • Seeing things that aren’t there (hallucinations) 
  • Believing something that isn’t true (delusions) 
  • Misidentifying familiar people 
  • Changing cognition that resembles delirium
  • Disorganized speech

Judgment & Decision Making

  • Changes in thinking and reasoning

Task Performance

  • Difficulty with attention and alertness 
  • Difficulty interpreting visual information 
  • Trouble planning tasks
  • Difficulty processing information


  • Tremors 
  • Rigid muscles 
  • Mobility changes, like slow movement, shuffling, trouble walking
  • Confusion 
  • Sleep difficulties and/or REM sleep disorder
  • Problems with automatic body functions, like blood pressure, digestion

Important Note

People may not experience every symptom. These symptoms may not mean a person has Lewy body dementia. It’s important to rule out other causes by talking to a doctor.

What Can You Expect?

  • Lewy body dementia is progressive.
  • Both physical and cognitive symptoms get worse over time.
  • There is higher risk for falls and injury due to movement issues.
  • Some medications may make other symptoms of Lewy body dementia worse.
  • It may be important to prioritize symptom treatment depending on their severity.

What Treatments Are Available?

There is currently no cure for Lewy body dementia, and there are no treatments  available to stop or slow disease progression. Treatment is focused on  addressing symptoms, which may include:  

  • Medications. These may be prescribed to treat Lewy body dementia  symptoms, like behaviors or hallucinations, Parkinson’s symptoms, or sleep  disorders. Some medications used to treat Alzheimer’s may be prescribed to  improve alertness and cognition. Talk to a healthcare provider about whether  medications would be appropriate.
  • Therapies. Physical therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy can help  people with Lewy body dementia cope with the physical symptoms and engage  in important activities. Music or art therapy may help with anxiety and improve  well-being.

Additional Resources

  • Caregiver hugging elderly woman

    Stages Of Dementia: What To Expect

  • Safety Systems

    Predict The Risk: 50 Safety Checks To Do Today

  • Man and woman talking over coffee

    Warning Signs Of Dementia

  • Caregiver Hands

    Where To Look For Support