Robin Williams - Dementia can attack anyone


It is not widely known that Robin Williams had Lewy-Body Dementia, and that dealing with this disease was the reason behind his suicide in August 2014.

Robin Williams was one of the most talented minds of his generation, with all the medical resources in the world, and care capability in the world at his disposal. And yet, dementia took hold of him, and never let him go.

Lewy Body Dementia (also called Lewy Body Disease, or Dementia with Lewy Bodies), is a form of dementia, characterised by the tiny deposits of a protein that appear in the nerve cells of the brain (the lewy bodies, named after the scientist that discovered them), causing the degeneration. Much less common than Alzheimer’s Disease, but sharing a long list terrible symptoms.

The below article was written by his widow, Susan Schneider, for the Journal of the American Academy of Neurology two years after his death. It is one of the most elegant and deeply moving descriptions of this period that I have seen.

For the first time, my own reasoning had no effect in helping my husband find the light through the tunnels of his fear. I felt his disbelief in the truths I was saying. My heart and my hope were shattered temporarily. We had reached a place we had never been before. My husband was trapped in the twisted architecture of his neurons and no matter what I did I could not pull him out.
— Susan Schneider

Susan Schneider wrote this letter to the Academy of Neurology, with the intent that “it will help them understand their patients and their spouses and caregivers a little more”. At KareInn we have precisely to the same goal, seeking to understand and then help. The article is very tough reading in parts, but thoroughly worth it.