Different types of dementia

The types of dementia

There are different types of dementia, some of which share common symptoms so that expert medical knowledge is required to distinguish between them.

Dementia is a progressive condition that different people experience in different ways. There are also variations in the rate at which it progresses. However, in all cases it eventually affects a person’s mental ability, in particular their memory, personality and normal behaviour. The result is they will gradually become less able to carry out routine daily tasks and lead an independent life. Below are some of the more common forms.

Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is the best known and most common form of dementia. It occurs most often in older people, with research showing that the likelihood of developing the disease doubles every five years after the age of 65. Alzheimer’s slowly destroys the brain and brings about confusion, loss of memory and a gradual decline in a person’s mental powers.

Vascular Dementia

Vascular dementia, sometimes called multi-infarct dementia, is the second most common type of dementia and occurs slightly more often in men than women. The condition typically appears between the ages of 60 and 75 and is usually the result of large or small strokes which block the supply of blood to the brain. The progression of the disease can change quite suddenly depending on the frequency with which the strokes occur and the part of the brain which they affect. As with Alzheimer’s, problems can include loss of memory, confusion and incontinence.

Lewy Body Dementia

Dementia with lewy bodies is another fairly common type of dementia. When these abnormal aggregates of protein appear in parts of the brain that control movement, many of its symptoms overlap with Parkinson’s disease. In older people it can also share symptoms with Alzheimer’s disease. Hallucinations are often one of the first symptoms, while other signs include a lack of facial expression, difficulty in controlling the body and a tendency to fall over.

Fronto-temporal dementia

This form of dementia is more likely to occur at a younger age than other forms, even from as early as 40 years old. Because it affects the front part of the brain, memory problems are less likely at first than changes in personality and behaviour. Because the frontal lobes of the brain govern the way we behave, a person with this form of dementia can appear to become selfish and unfeeling, making life even more stressful for the carer.

Alcohol related brain damage

This can be caused by a vitamin deficiency in heavy drinkers and is particularly noticeable by a loss in short term memory.

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