For people with dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) there is evidence that drugs called cholinesterase inhibitors may help to improve some of the symptoms, including thinking skills and visual hallucinations.

There are some treatments that can help with the symptoms of dementia with Lewy bodies. The drugs used to treat Alzheimer’s disease may help to improve some of the symptoms of DLB, including problems with thinking skills and visual hallucinations.

These drugs are called:

  • donepezil
  • rivastigmine
  • galantamine
  • memantine

These drugs boost chemicals that help brain cells to communicate with each other, alleviating some of the memory and thinking symptoms in DLB. Unfortunately they do not work for everyone, and as symptoms become more severe they may not work as well. There are currently no medications available to slow down the progression of DLB, but researchers are making progress towards finding lifechanging treatments.

Agitation and aggression can be common symptoms in dementia. For people who experience these symptoms, a doctor should first assess the person’s health and environment. This could help to identify any causes or triggers of agitation or aggression, so these can be addressed first before trying medication. A doctor may prescribe antipsychotics to treat these symptoms. However people with DLB should be carefully monitored if they are prescribed these drugs as they can experience serious side-effects.

Other treatments

People who experience movement symptoms in DLB can be treated using physiotherapy or with levodopa, a drug used for Parkinson’s disease. There is a risk that this drug may cause visual hallucinations or confusion symptoms to happen, or to get worse in people who already experience these. Any side effects from medications should be reported to your doctor.

For people who experience movement during sleep, practical steps, such as moving objects away from the bed, can reduce the risk of injury. There are also medications available to help people with DLB who have disrupted sleep because of movement.

Non-drug treatments, such as cognitive therapy, exercise and group activities may also help with some of the symptoms in DLB. You can discuss your treatment options with your doctor.


Treatments for dementia

Read more about treatments for dementia, including information on treating depression, anxiety and agitation and for information on antipsychotics.

Dementia with Lewy bodies

Information in this booklet is for anyone who wants to know more about dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). This includes people living with DLB, their carers, families and friends.

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Alzheimer’s Research UK has a wide range of information about dementia. Order booklets or download them from our online form.

This information was updated in December 2021 and is due to be reviewed in December 2023, it was written by Alzheimer’s Research UK’s Information Services team with input from lay and expert reviewers. Please get in touch if you’d like a version with references or in a different format.


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