The Eight Types of Dementia

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Dementia occurs when the there is a gradual deterioration of the brain in the area that effects concentration, mood, memory, judgment, and the ability to think. Early signs of dementia are confusion, behavior changes, memory problems, and how the person communicates. Dementia occurs slowly over time. Cognitive and behavior changes affect a person’s ability to cope with daily tasks. Symptoms of dementia include impaired decision making, difficulty learning, inability to solve problems. Behavioral changes include insecurity, depression, anger, and fear.
There are many diseases and conditions that can cause brain cells to be destroyed and cause dementia. Some of these are Alzheimer’s disease, or strokes (called vascular or multi-infarct dementia). Individual’s that have these experience a decreased blood flow to the brain.

The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease.

The Difference between Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia

Dementia

Many things can cause dementia. Some of the causes are: long-term drug or alcohol abuse, hydrocephalus, AIDS, high fever, dehydration, systemic lupus erythematosus, multiple sclerosis, Lyme disease, vitamin deficiencies, poor nutrition, hypothyroidism or hypercalcemia, and brain tumor(s).
A head injury can also result in dementia. This can be due to hemorrhaging in the brain.

Cognitive inabilities that occur in those with dementia include at least one of the following:

Difficulty generating coherent speech and understanding language written or spoken;
Difficulty identifying objects;
Difficulty executing motor functions and activities, comprehension of a required task and sensory function;
Difficulty making sound judgments, thinking abstractly, and carrying out complex tasks.

The different types of dementia have distinct symptoms and brain abnormalities. In addition the decline in cognitive function must be severe enough to interfere with everyday life.

Common Types of Dementia

Alzheimer’s Disease

The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s Disease. Close to 80 percent of cases are Alzheimers.
One of the earliest symptoms is remembering names. Symptoms that occur later are confusion, trouble speaking, disorientation, impaired judgment, walking, and swallowing. The most recognized abnormalities of the brain are twisted strands of the protein tau that result in tangles and deposits of the protein fragment beta-amyloid that cause plaque to build up on the brain.

Frontotemporal Dementia

With this type of dementia, the front and side of the brain have damaged brain cells. Some symptoms include difficulty with language and changes in personality and behavior. A type of this dementia is Pick’s disease which is characterized by “Pick’s bodies.”

Vascular Dementia

This is the second most commonly occurring dementia. As a result of a series of small strokes, there is decreased blood flow to areas of the brain that cause impairment and block arteries. Symptoms are similar to those of Alzheimer’s, however memory loss isn’t as great.
As with Alzheimer’s, there are problems with behavior, judgment, and memory. The pattern of decline is similar to Alzheimers. Other symptoms are hallucinations, tremors, and muscle rigidity. Signs of this include Lewy bodies which are abnormal deposits of the protein alphasynuclein. Lewy bodies form inside nerve cells in the brain.

Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus

This (NPH) is caused by the buildup of fluid in the brain. Some of the symptoms include memory loss, difficulty walking, and inability to control urine. There is hope for NPH because sometimes a shunt can be installed in the brain to help drain excess fluid and help correct the pressure.

Mild cognitive impairment

A person may have (MCI) which results in problems with memory, language or another essential cognitive function and still carry on with everyday life. These symptoms are severe enough to be noticeable to others and can show up on tests as well.
Some individuals with MCI develop dementia. In others, the symptoms may not progress to dementia. Some individuals who have MCI can revert later to normal cognitive status.

Mixed dementia

This involves the presence of signs of Alzheimer’s abnormalities and some other form of dementia, most commonly vascular dementia. The other form of dementia can also include dementia with Lewy bodies, normal pressure hydrocephalus, or frontotemporal dementia.

Parkinson’s disease

Those who have Parkinson’s disease often develop dementia in the later stages of the disease. The main sign of abnormality is Lewy bodies.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease

This is a fatal disorder that forms rapidly and can impair both memory and coordination and also cause behavior changes. This “Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease” is believed to be the result of consumption of products from cattle affected by “mad cow disease.”

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