Harry Lewis was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when he was 59. Along with his problems with memory and thinking, he began to have hallucinations. “Other people’s hallucinations are about small children, or maybe money,” his wife Sue says, laughing. “My husband kept seeing a naked blond in the living room.”
Harry’s doctor prescribed Zyprexa, an antipsychotic medicine, to control the hallucinations. It seemed to work, but then Harry had two grand mal seizures in four days. This kind of extreme sensitivity to antipsychotic medications is a symptom of dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), and is one of the criteria doctors use to diagnose the disease. On Harry's 60th birthday, his diagnosis was changed from Alzheimer’s to DLB.
It’s not unusual for people to be diagnosed with another dementia before getting a diagnosis of dementia with Lewy bodies. In Part 2 of the Tangled Neuron series on Lewy bodies, Joseph Friedman M.D., Director of the NeuroHealth Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders Center in Warwick, Rhode Island and member of the Lewy Body Dementia Association Scientific Advisory Council, talks about why it’s so hard to diagnose this disease.