Written by Active Minds on Tuesday the 13th of November 2018.
Dementia is an often-misunderstood disease, with many people not realising the word ‘dementia’ is an umbrella term for condition which essentially refers to a set of symptoms, such as memory loss and difficulties with language and problem solving. But within this there are various forms of dementia, each one affecting people in different ways and for different reasons.
In this blog, we will look at the most common types of dementia to help try to give you a more detailed understanding of the disease.
This is the most common and well-known form of the disease, affecting about half the people diagnosed with dementia. Alzheimer’s is caused by a build-up of proteins in the brain leading to damage of brain cells, which cause issues like memory loss, due to the loss of connections between the nerve cells. Symptoms generally start as short term memory loss, with this progressing to long term memory loss, communication issues and behaviour changes during the latter stages of the disease.
Frontotemporal dementia is one of the rarer types of dementia and refers to the different conditions that affect the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. The frontal lobe (behind the forehead) is associated with planning, emotions, behaviour and problem solving, whilst the temporal lobes (either side of the brain) deals with recognising faces, names for items and the meaning of words.
Generally, people who have been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia will show changes in a number of areas, including movement, speech and language and behavioural changes.
Vascular dementia is the second most common type of dementia occurring when the blood supply to the brain is damaged or cut off. The most likely reason for this occurring is when a person has a stroke, or a series of mini-strokes. People with vascular dementia will start to develop symptoms such as forgetting things or problems with balance and walking.
Discover more about Vascular Dementia.
Lewy Body Dementia
This form of dementia affects around 10 – 15 percent of people with dementia and is caused by tiny deposits of protein (Lewy bodies) appearing in the nerve cells in the brain. Research as to the exact reasons that Lewy bodies appear is still ongoing but it is generally thought that it is linked to low levels of chemicals in the brain nerve cells and a loss of connection between nerve cells.
Symptoms of Lewy body dementia can very day to day, but will often affect memory, physical ability, such as weakness in arms and legs and tremors, and hallucinations. Lewy bodies are also linked to Parkinson’s disease with people with Parkinson’s disease at a high risk of developing this type of dementia, but people with Lewy body dementia not necessarily getting symptoms of Parkinson’s.
The most common type of alcohol-related dementia is Korsakoff syndrome, caused by a lack of Thiamine in the body (vitamin B1). People who drink heavily are unable to absorb the vitamin very well. Symptoms are generally around memory, causing people to have issues learning new information or remembering events. However, once a person stops drinking the symptoms have a high chance of being reversed.
Discover more about Korsakoff syndrome.