How is Lewy body dementia treated?

Lewy body dementia symptoms are managed in different ways, some may be helped by certain drugs, and others through non-drug interventions. There is no one right way to treat Lewy body dementia as people all experience the disease and its symptoms in different ways, and treatments need to be personalised to the individual.

Medical treatment for Lewy body dementia

While there is no cure for Lewy body dementia, symptoms can often be alleviated. Prescribing should be started under the supervision or advice of a doctor with experience of Lewy body dementia.

They include:

  • Alzheimer’s medications: Cholinesterase inhibitors, such as rivastigmine and donepezil increase the levels of chemical messengers in the brain that are important in memory, thought, judgment, perception and processing information. They can improve alertness and cognition and might reduce hallucinations and other behavioural problems but do come with possible side effects.
  • Parkinson’s disease medications: These medications, such as Sinemet (levodopa with carbidopa) can help reduce parkinsonian symptoms, such as rigid muscles and slow movement. But they may also sometimes increase confusion, hallucinations and delusions.
  • Other medications: To treat symptoms including sleep or movement problems.
  • Antipsychotic drugs: These drugs are generally not recommended as they can be dangerous to people with Lewy body dementia and in general they should be avoided unless your doctor is fully aware of your diagnosis and the implications. However, sometimes they may be suggested as a way to deal with extremely distressing symptoms.

Non-drug treatment for Lewy body dementia

  • Occupational, physical and speech and language therapy can all be beneficial.
  • Environmental considerations such as lighting, visual stimulation, aromatherapy or music therapy can all make a difference.
  • Rising slowly to prevent falls from orthostatic hypotension.
  • Constipation can be treated by increasing dietary fibre and hydration. Sometimes your doctor may suggest gentle laxatives which can help.
  • Drink thickeners can prevent choking on drinks while pureed foods help when there are difficulties swallowing.
  • A daily routine, physical activity and changes to the home environment are all helpful in managing Lewy body dementia day-to-day.