The Different Types of Dementia
There are different types of dementia, each with its own set of symptoms and causes. The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, which typically leads to a decline in cognitive abilities and memory loss. Vascular dementia is another type of dementia that can occur after a stroke or other type of brain injury. Lewy body dementia is another form of dementia that often results in problems with movement, mood, and thinking. Frontotemporal dementia is a rarer form of dementia that usually affects people under the age of 65. Mixed dementia is a term used to describe when someone has multiple types of dementia.
Let’s break down the different types of dementia in more detail – Part 1
- Alzheimer’s disease. This is the most common cause of dementia. Although not all causes of Alzheimer’s disease are known, experts do know that a small percentage are related to mutations of three genes. This can be passed down from parent to child. Although it is probable that several genes cause Alzheimer’s disease, one important gene that increases the chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease is apolipoprotein E4 (APOE). People with Alzheimer’s disease have plaques and tangles in their brains. Beta-amyloid protein clumps referred to as plaques, and tau protein tangles are thought to damage healthy neurons and the fibers connecting them.
- Vascular dementia. Dementia of this classification is caused by impairment to the vessels that provide your brain with blood. But not just any type of vessel–blood vessels. Blood vessel problems can result in strokes or impact the brain via other means, for example damaging the white matter fibers in the brain. Vascular dementia often manifests through difficulties with problem-solving, slowed thinking, or an inability to focus and organize. These signs are usually more pronounced than memory loss.
Let’s break down the different types of dementia in more detail – Part 2
- Lewy body dementia. People with Lewy body dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease have been found to have abnormal balloonlike clumps of protein in their brain. This is a progressive type of dementia that often acts out dreams during sleep, sees visual hallucinations, and has difficulty focusing or paying attention. Other signs include slow or uncoordinated movement, shaking/tremors, and rigidity (parkinsonism).
- Frontotemporal dementia. This is a set of diseases that results in nerve cell deterioration and the connections between them in the frontal and temporal brain lobes. These are generally the areas considered to house personality, behavior, and language. Common symptom effects include behavioral changes, alterations to thinking or judgment patterns, as well as difficulties with language skills and movement/coordination.
- Mixed dementia. The brains of people 80 years and older who had dementia were autopsied, revealing that most had a combination of several causes. For example, some common diagnoses were Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, and Lewy body dementia. More research is needed to understand how mixed forms of dementia affect both symptoms and treatments.
Cognitive Therapy & Next Steps
Cognitive training exercises can help improve memory and thinking skills in people with dementia. Implementing specific cognitive therapies by a certified caregiver is imperative to slow the growth of dementia. In fact, implementing a proper care plan, by a certified dementia caregiver can increase the quality of life. Dementia regardless of its form is NOT a death sentence. It does not mean assisted living or a nursing home. In fact, care at home has shown a senior with dementia can cope and live with a higher quality of life.
Do not just chalk up memory issues as “getting older.” By catching dementia early on you have a higher probability of slowing its spread. Contact us today for an in-home care consultation.