The entertainment world was sent reeling last August when it learned of the suicide death of actor and comedian Robin Williams. At the time, the award-winning entertainer’s family requested privacy as they looked to make sense of the terrible tragedy. Now, his widow Susan, to whom he had been married since 2011 has indicated in an interview with People magazine that Williams’ autopsy revealed that he was suffering from a common, yet underdiagnosed form of dementia. By doing so, Mrs. Williams hopes to raise awareness for the millions of older Americans and their familes who may also be affected by the disease.
What is LBD?
Susan Williams announced last week that her husband was mere weeks from entering an inpatient evaluation program. While it is unclear what the results would have been, the autopsy performed after the comedian’s death showed clear signs of Lewy Body Dementia, or LBD, a degenerative brain disease that caregivers describe as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and psychiatric disorder combined into a single condition. Experts believe LBD currently affects some 1.4 million Americans, but its symptoms so closely resemble more commonly-identified disorders that it is severely underdiagnosed.
LBD symptoms appear in varying degrees at varying times, and often include drastic changes is cognition, attention and alertness, gait changes, hallucinations, and medication sensitivities. In the case of Robin Williams, LBD is believed to have significantly contributed to his depression, which eventually spiraled out of control.
Begin the Planning Process
There currently is no cure for LBD, and while some dementia medications may be helpful, early and accurate diagnosis is critical. The unpredictability of the disease also makes it incredibly important to start planning for the future right away. A diagnosis of LBD is by no means a death sentence, but once diagnosed, a patient should begin to look ahead at options for long-term care, end-of-life decision making, and other provisions in the event that unexpected should occur.
At Kezy & Associates, we are proud to help Illinois families with all of their elder law concerns. If you or your aging loved one has been diagnosed with LBD or any other type of degenerative disease, contact an experienced Orland Park elder law attorney. We will work with you in developing the necessary planning documents, including living wills, powers of attorney and much more. Call 708-518-8200 for your free consultation and give your family the peace of mind they deserve.