Types of Dementia

There are many diseases that may cause dementia. The most common causes include Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies and Frontotemporal dementia.

What is the difference between Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease? Via by Trinity College

Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common and well-known cause of dementia. It is thought to cause over half of all cases. It is recognised by the build-up of protein in the brain which forms plaques and tangles that stop the brain working as it should.

Short term memory loss is often one of the first symptoms of this disease; however there are a range of early signs and symptoms including

  • Getting stuck for words;
  • Misplacing things regularly;
  • Losing track of time;
  • Changes in mood and behaviour and;
  • Difficulty in finding the way, even in familiar places.

It is important to remember that symptoms vary from person to person as everyone’s experience with the disease is unique.

One of the first things I noticed, apart from her memory, was her ability to coordinate daily tasks was deteriorating. When she cooked a meal, she might cook the vegetables first and it could be hours afterwards that she would put the meat on.

Anonymous, Galway

Vascular dementia

Vascular dementia is the second most common type of dementia and it occurs when the blood supply to the brain is damaged. There are two main types of vascular dementia; one caused by stroke (Multi-infarct dementia) and the other by small vessel disease (Subcortical dementia).

Multi-infarct dementia is a type of vascular dementia that is caused by small strokes. The strokes can be so tiny that no-one notices them happening, but the person may get worse quite suddenly and then not change again until the next stroke happens. As a result, the progression of this dementia is often described as happening in steps rather than steady gradual changes, such as in Alzheimer’s disease.

Subcortical dementia is another type of vascular dementia and is caused by very small blood vessels that are in the inner parts of the brain.

People with vascular dementia can often experience the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty concentrating and communicating
  • Memory problems
  • Depression

Dementia with Lewy bodies

Dementia with Lewy bodies is a type of dementia that shares characteristics with both Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Like Alzheimer’s disease symptoms progress gradually over several years. The person will experience many of the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and may also experience:

  • Muscle stiffness
  • Trembling of the limbs
  • A tendency to shuffle when walking
  • hallucinations (seeing things that are not there)
  • fall asleep during the day and then not sleep at night

Frontotemporal dementia

Frontotemporal dementia, including Picks Disease is a rare type of dementia which is caused by damage to different areas of the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. During the early stages, a person’s memory may be fine but their personality, behaviour and language skills can change.

This dementia often may cause a person to:

  • Say and do things at the wrong time and in the wrong place
  • Loss of sympathy or empathy
  • Loss of interest in things or people
  • Repetitive, compulsive behaviours
  • Changes in language such as errors in grammar, slow, hesitant speech or difficulty finding the right word

The progression of this dementia is unpredictable and in the later stages symptoms are similar to those of Alzheimer’s disease.

Other forms of dementia

Other forms of dementia include Creutzfeld-Jacob Dementia and alcohol-related dementia such as Korsakoff’s syndrome. For more information on alcohol related brain injury, click HERE  Some people with Down’s syndrome also develop dementia in middle age.

If you or your loved one are experiencing changes in your memory, mood or ability to manage, don’t worry alone. Take the next step and do something about it.

Below you will find information about early signs and symptoms, when you should visit your doctor, how a diagnosis is made and what treatment is available. You will also find tips on coping with memory loss.

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