Beyond Alzheimer's: Understanding the Different Types of Dementia

Beyond Alzheimer's: Understanding the Different Types of Dementia

  • November 30, 2017

Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia. It’s estimated that more than 5 million people have this disease and the numbers continue to climb. It’s the sixth-most common cause of death in the United States

But Alzheimer’s isn’t the only kind of dementia. 

Although it accounts for roughly three-quarters of all dementia cases, Alzheimer’s is just one of several types. There are many other kinds of dementia, but here is a quick overview of the most common along with their symptoms and other general characteristics. 

9 Common Forms of Dementia

Parkinson's Disease

This disease causes progressive dementia (Parkinson’s Dementia) that scientists believe is caused by a degeneration or deterioration of the nerve cells in the brain. These are the nerve cells that are responsible for producing dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain that’s associated with motivation and reward. 

Huntington's Disease

A brain disorder that usually appears in people between the ages of 30 and 50, Huntington’s can affect people of any age. Symptoms include the loss of ability to control movement of the arms and legs, as well as the face and upper body. There is also cognitive decline with this disorder, similar to the type experienced by people with Alzheimer’s disease

Vascular Dementia

When someone suffers a stroke, one result can be vascular dementia. People who are diagnosed with this form of dementia may experience impaired judgment as their first symptom. The severity of this condition depends on the severity of the damage to brain cells suffered during the stroke. 

Mixed Dementia  

When two or more types of dementia are present in an individual at the same time, a diagnosis of mixed dementia is given. An increasing number of experts believe that most people live with mixed dementia, and that Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia is the most common combination.

Dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB) 

Lewy bodies are protein clumps that, when formed in the cortex of the brain, can cause dementia. Some people who have Alzheimer’s disease are also diagnosed with dementia with Lewy bodies. 

Unlike Alzheimer’s, however, the initial symptoms of this type of dementia are more likely to be sleep disturbance, slowness, balance problems, hallucinations, and uncontrolled movement. 

Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD)

CJD is part of a group of brain disorders that are rare but deadly. One form is ‘mad cow disease’, which can be transmitted to people. Symptoms of CJD include impaired memory and loss of coordination, plus changes in behavior. 

Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD)

The most prevalent symptom of FTD is a change in personality and language problems. People are typically diagnosed at a younger age than with Alzheimer’s but survive for a shorter period of time. 

Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus

When there’s a buildup of fluid in the brain, normal pressure hydrocephalus may occur. Symptoms include memory loss and balance problems. A distinguishing trait of this type of dementia is the inability to control one’s bladder. 

Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome

This form of dementia is chronic and the most common symptom of memory problems. Social skills and other thinking skills may remain preserved, unlike many other types of dementia. 

Memory Care at Five Star Senior Living 

When a senior is diagnosed with any form of dementia, whether it’s Alzheimer’s or something else, families can feel the strain. Safety issues are always top of mind, and the pain of watching a loved one struggle with the disease can feel overwhelming at times. 

Five Star offers a supportive environment for older adults who have all types of dementia. If you and your family are concerned about the welfare of a senior loved one who has dementia, we can help. 

Our Memory Care program offers not just a secure environment but a full selection of daily activities and support designed to allow residents a rich life regardless of their diagnosis. 

Call us today to learn more or schedule a private tour!


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