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The Different Types of Dementia

When people hear the word dementia, many think of Alzheimer’s Disease. While it’s the most common form of dementia, Alzheimer’s is just one of many. Several types of dementia have similar symptoms, which can make them difficult to tell apart and diagnose. Read on to learn more about the different types of dementia, potential causes, and treatments.

The different forms of dementia include:

  • Vascular Dementia
  • Lewy Body Dementia
  • Frontotemporal Dementia
  • Mixed Dementia
  • Alzheimer’s Disease

Certain diagnoses share dementia-like symptoms but aren’t considered a type of dementia. These include:

  • Huntington’s Disease
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease
  • Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy

It can be challenging to distinguish between the many forms of dementia. Here we discuss the similarities and differences between each form of dementia.

 

 

Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of dementia and affects over six million Americans. Alzheimer’s is caused by a buildup of plaques on nerves that transmit messages throughout the body.

Scientists have not entirely determined what causes these plaques to form, but age is considered the most significant risk factor. Additionally, there are three genetic mutations known to increase a person’s risk for developing Alzheimer’s Disease.

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease include trouble remembering things like events, locations, and words. Someone living with Alzheimer’s may get lost driving or walking in their neighborhood or forget their grandchildren’s names. These changes are usually slow and can take months or years to progress.

There is no cure for Alzheimer’s at this time, but there are medications and other treatments that may slow down the progression of the disease. Supportive caregivers and in-home care can help improve the safety and quality of life for those living with Alzheimer’s.

 

Vascular Dementia

Vascular Dementia is caused by a vascular injury, such as a stroke. A restriction in blood flow and oxygen during a vascular event can cause cognitive changes similar to Alzheimer’s Disease.

Someone living with Vascular Dementia is more likely to have issues with problem-solving, complex thinking, and focusing instead of memory loss. Treatment for Vascular Dementia focuses on preventing future vascular events and further damage. This treatment may include medications or lifestyle factors to reduce the risk of stroke, arrhythmias, and high blood pressure.

 

Lewy Body Dementia

Lewy Body Dementia is caused by the development of a specific type of protein called alpha-synuclein in the brain. These proteins, named after Dr. Frederick Lewy, are also present in those living with Parkinson’s disease dementia.

Symptoms of Lewy Body Dementia usually develop slowly over many years. These symptoms include memory and cognitive changes but can also include psychiatric symptoms. Visual hallucinations are the most common symptom, occurring in up to 80% of people with Lewy Body Dementia. Hallucinations mean people may see things that are not there, which can be frightening. Another common symptom of Lewy Body Dementia is a sudden or unpredictable change in a person’s focus or concentration.

In addition to cognitive changes, there are physical changes associated with Lewy Body Dementia. These include tremors, trouble walking, loss of coordination, or a weakening of the voice.

There isn’t a cure for Lewy Body Dementia at this time, but developing an in-home care plan can allow people to continue functioning safely at home for a long time with the disease.

 

Frontotemporal Dementia

Frontotemporal dementia is caused by a breakdown of nerve cells or connections in the temporal or frontal lobes of the brain. It can affect a person’s personality, behavior, judgment, movement, or language abilities. The frontal and temporal lobes of the brain are responsible for thinking, communication, reasoning, and task completion.

Frontotemporal Dementia is far less common than other types of dementia. Most cases appear to be caused by inherited genetic changes.

There are no treatments specific to Frontotemporal Dementia currently available, but medications to manage behavioral or personality changes can help reduce and manage symptoms. Genetic testing is available for those who are concerned they may carry genes that put them at risk for developing the disease.

 

Mixed Dementia

Mixed Dementia occurs when someone has a mix of two different forms of dementia.

For example, someone may have plaques that have developed in their brain (which is characteristic of Alzheimer’s Disease) and also have vascular changes in their brain from a prior stroke (which is characteristic of Vascular Dementia).

Symptoms of Mixed Dementia depend on the two or more dementias involved, including cognitive, behavioral, or physical changes. There are currently no treatments specifically for Mixed Dementia, but there may be treatments for individual symptoms.

 

Tandem Careplanning Dementia Home Care Services

If you or a loved one are experiencing signs of dementia or are currently living with dementia, it’s important to know you’re not alone. At Tandem Careplanning, we specialize in dementia home care.

We can help you create a customized care plan for you or your loved one, and we’ll help guide you every step of the way.

If you’d like to learn more about in-home dementia care, call one of our skilled Senior Care Specialists at 1-800-370-3377.

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