Our guest speaker in February was Lindsey Vajpeyi, Director of Education and Outreach at Insight Memory Care Center, who spoke on Lewy Body Dementia. She began by defining and differentiating it from normal aging forgetfulness, then talked about Parkinson’s disease dementia. She provided a summary of her talk. Click on LBD Review handout to access a PDF of the handout she distributed at the meeting.
In addition, Lindsay advised Taking Care of Your Brain Health:
- Physical activity and exercise to keep your physical side as healthy as possible
- Social activity to keep cognitively sharp
- Use your brain in as many ways as you can — do crossword puzzles, take classes, learn a new language
- Don’t put all your activity eggs in one cognitive basket, such as only doing crossword puzzles
- Reduce stress
Lindsay suggests speaking to your doctor about any cognitive concerns you may have. There are short screening tools and neuropsychological tests that can be done. In addition, Insight Memory Center Care in Fairfax offers a free 10-minute memory screening. If interested, contact Lindsay at 703-204-4664 or firstname.lastname@example.org She does not keep a record of the screening.
In our group discussion after Lindsay left, a number of members expressed concerns and worries at her assertion that 50-80% of people with Parkinson’s will have cognitive changes, generally 10 years after diagnosis, and some of the risk factors she cited such as: (1) visual sensitivity, including hallucinations; (2) motor and autonomic disfunction, like temperature regulation; (3) vivid dreams or acting out of dreams; and (4) spacial perception issues.
One of our group members reassured us that from her perspective, all of our memories were fine. She pointed out that it had been a dense presentation, we all remembered the information presented, and had each articulated our thoughts well in response to it.
We also emailed Lindsay some of the concerns, to which she responded:
I can understand the women’s concerns. It is important to remember that numbers (like 50-80%, 10 year average, etc.) are numbers based on large scale data sets of people and may not reflect the experience of any individual person. I certainly don’t want to scare anyone, but I also want everyone to be aware of the realities. Not everyone who has Parkinson’s will develop Lewy body dementia, but for those who do, it is important to educate, plan, and get support early in the process. We should all take care of our bodies and brains, talk with our doctor when we are concerned about a change, and live a full life in the meantime!
I’m sure we can agree with our group leader’s assessment:
The presentation was strong and powerful as each of us absorbed what was said and ran the inevitable self-scan. This was a topic we knew very little about and ventured into like 5 year olds into a haunted house. We are strong, educated, and aware of our health challenges. And thanks to this presentation, even a little more so.