Memory Mondays: The Different Types of Dementia

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The term dementia denotes loss of memory and other mental abilities severe enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease may be the most prevalent form, but there are many other types of dementia that afflict our population.

At The Clare, we accommodate the various types of dementia in our memory care wing, where all residents are treated with compassion and respect. Learn more about the different types of dementia, as well as the symptoms and treatments of each kind.

Alzheimer’s disease

As previously noted, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. In fact, Alzheimer’s accounts for around 60 to 80% of all dementia cases, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Symptoms of Alzheimer’s include difficulty with short-term memory in the early stages, impaired communication, poor judgment, disorientation, behavioral changes and trouble talking, swallowing and walking.

Vascular dementia

Vascular dementia was formerly known as post-stroke dementia, and it accounts for approximately 10% of dementia cases, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. It is marked by impaired judgment or difficulty making decisions early on, and occurs from blood vessel blockage or damage that results in infarcts (strokes) or bleeding in the brain. There are many factors that affect the severity of symptoms from vascular dementia.

Dementia with Lewy bodies

Brain changes that take place with Lewy bodies, which are abnormal clumps of a certain protein in the part of the brain called the cortex, can cause dementia. Those who have dementia with Lewy bodies experience memory loss and thinking issues comparable to Alzheimer’s, but they’re more likely to endure sleep disturbances, visual hallucinations and more early on in the progression of the disease.

Mixed dementia

When someone is diagnosed with mixed dementia, it means they’re dealing with abnormalities in the brain that can be linked to more than one cause of dementia. Recent research suggests mixed dementia is more common than previously thought, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. More often than not, the combination is Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia, but dementia with Lewy bodies along with other types of dementia is also common.

Parkinson’s disease

A progressive form of dementia comparable to dementia with Lewy bodies or Alzheimer’s tends to occur as Parkinson’s disease develops. The symptoms, then, are also similar to dementia with Lewy bodies, and trouble with movement is a common symptom, as well.

Frontotemporal dementia

Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) encompasses a wide range of dementias, such as behavioral variant FTD, primary progressive aphasia, Pick’s disease and others. When someone experiences frontotemporal dementia, changes in personality and struggles with language occur. Nerve cells in the front and side regions of the brain are particularly affected in these instances. It’s also noteworthy that people with frontotemporal dementia usually develop symptoms at a younger age, and they survive for few years than people who have Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is considered the most common form of various rare, fatal brain disorders. It significantly impairs memory and coordination, and causes behavioral changes.

Normal pressure hydrocephalus

Noteworthy symptoms of normal pressure hydrocephalus range from trouble walking and memory loss to difficulty controlling urination. This type of dementia results from a buildup of fluid in the brain, and it can sometimes be corrected by surgical means to drain excess fluid.

Huntington’s disease

Huntington’s disease is a progressive brain disorder marked by abnormal, involuntary movements, drastic declines in thinking and reasoning abilities and irritability and other mood changes. The disease stems from a single defective gene on chromosome 4.

Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome

The most common cause of Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, a chronic memory disorder resulting from a severe thiamine (vitamin B-1) deficiency, is alcohol abuse. Memory problems are likely to be most profound, while behavior and social skills may come across as unchanged. Thiamine is crucial to brain functionality, as it aides brain cells in producing energy from sugar. When thiamine levels are critically low, brain cells are unable to produce enough energy to properly function, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.