Casey Kasem’s Passing Brings Awareness to Lewy Body Dementia

NEW HYDE PARK, NY -- American Radio icon Casey Kasem’s death after a battle with Lewy Body dementia will help shine a light on the disease and help care-givers focus on steps they can take to help manage it.

Lewy Body dementia is a very common form of the disease and people who have it experience both motor and neurological issues, explains Maria Carney, MD, chief of geriatric medicine for the North Shore-LIJ Health System.

“There are different forms of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease being the most common and most widely known,” Dr. Carney says. “Vascular dementia is from circulatory problems such as stroke or mini-strokes. Then the next most common forms are Lewy Body dementia and Parkinson’s disease dementia, which are often combined. Lewy Body dementia is a disease, neurological and progressive, that has Parkison’s-like symptoms where you can have motor symptoms, but the cognitive or the memory problems present before the motor problems. With Parkinson’s disease dementia, the motor symptoms usually present but the cognitive problems come later in the course of disease.”

There is no cure for dementia, but there are treatments to manage the disease, Dr. Carney says. These treatments can help to slow the loss of memory and manage the anxiety, hallucinations and other aspects of the disease.

Another concern for caregivers and families of those with dementia is safety, because people with dementia can forget to do things such as turn off the stove.

“When safety issues start presenting themselves, then we have to protect,” Dr. Carney says. “We have to communicate; we have to be concerned about driving and address this to see if people are safe to do this. Are they taking their medications properly? Do they need to be supervised in that?”

 

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