End-stage Lewy body dementia is the final stage of the progressive disease and is characterized by a worsening of cognitive symptoms, according to the Lewy Body Dementia Association, Inc. Typically, death from Lewy body dementia occurs within five to seven years of initial diagnosis. There is no cure for the disease.
As Lewy body dementia progresses, a gradual and sometimes rapid decline occurs, notes LBDA. Behavioral and cognitive symptoms become more dramatic, generally due to infection, pain or other medical issues, although some treatments improve symptoms for a period of time.
Initially, Lewy body dementia presents as cognitive impairment, acting out dreams, visual hallucinations, sleep disturbances and motor problems such as difficulty with movement and balance, tremor, and rigidity, advises LBDA. These symptoms become progressively worse, although mental abilities can take an unpredictable course in fluctuation.
In its later stages, Lewy body dementia causes difficulty in basic self-care and daily living activities, including toileting, dressing and bathing, according to LBDA. Sufferers may have difficulty swallowing, talking and walking, or may find it difficult to participate in activities or communicate with others. Aspiration pneumonia and weight loss are common in later stages of the disease, and the sufferer may require constant care to ensure that basic needs are met. Hospice care is often required for late-stage Lewy body dementia patients.