Types of Dementia

Progressive Dementias

Vascular Dementia

According to the National Institute on Aging, Vascular dementia is the second most common form of dementia in older adults.

Characteristics: Vascular dementia, refers to impairment caused by reduced blood flow to parts of the brain. One type may develop after a single major stroke blocks blood flow to a large area of brain tissue

Symptoms: Vascular dementia symptoms can mirror Alzheimer’s. They include problems with memory, confusion and difficulty following instructions. In some cases, the impairment associated with vascular dementia can occur in “steps” rather than in the slow, steady decline usually seen in Alzheimer’s.

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Lewy Body Dementia

Lewy Body dementia (LBD) is a progressive brain disorder that affects autonomic body functions like blood pressure control, temperature regulation, and bladder/bowel functions. Often, LBD presents with Alzheimer’s- and Parkinson’s-like symptoms.

Characteristics: Lewy Body dementia is caused by abnormal deposits of the alpha-synuclein protein in the brain—called Lewy bodies—that affect chemicals in the brain associated with thinking, movement, behavior, and mood. Research is ongoing as to what makes one susceptible to LBD.

Symptoms: Individuals affected often experience fluctuations in attention and alertness, visual hallucinations, muscle rigidity, tremors, reduced facial expressions, difficulty swallowing, a weak voice, stooped posture, balance problems, and smaller handwriting than usual.

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Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) or Frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD)

FTD, originally known as “Pick’s disease,” is an umbrella category for disorders that affect the frontal and temporal lobes.

Characteristics: These areas affect personality, behavior, and language skills. According to the Mayo Clinic, FTD often occurs as early as age 40.

Symptoms: FTLD is a syndrome associated with progressive decline in behavior or language that occurs when the frontal and anterior temporal lobes degenerate.

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Other Dementias

Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)

MCI is becoming an increasingly common diagnosis as people concerned about early memory change seek medical evaluation.

Characteristics: While MCI may be a pre-clinical stage of Alzheimer’s disease, some people do not progress to Alzheimer’s. People with MCI show some deviation from the normal cognitive range when evaluated with cognitive testing; however, their normal daily function is not impacted by the memory changes they themselves have noticed.

Symptoms: MCI refers to the stage between cognitive decline in traditional aging and the severe decline of dementia. One may experience “brain slips,” but they are not significant enough to interfere with daily life.

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Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD)

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) (CROYZ-felt YAH-kob) is a rare, rapidly fatal disorder that impairs memory and coordination, and causes behavior changes.

Mixed Dementia

Mixed dementia is a condition in which Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia, or Alzheimer’s and Lewy body dementia, occur together.

Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (NPH)

Normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH) is caused by a buildup of fluid in the brain. The cause of most cases is unknown. Symptoms include difficulty walking, memory loss and the inability to control urine. Sometimes NPH can be corrected with surgery to drain the excess brain fluid.

Huntington’s Disease

Huntington’s disease is another form of dementia which is an inherited, progressive disorder that causes irregular movements of the arms, legs and facial muscles, personality changes, and a decline in the ability to think clearly.

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