BLOG - Four Common Forms of Dementia
Dementia is sometimes mistaken as a single neurodegenerative disorder, but in reality, dementia is an umbrella term for loss of memory. There are many forms of dementia, and all forms can interfere with your quality of life.
In this blog, our neurology specialists discuss four common types of dementia and what we can do to support your quality of life.
1. Alzheimer’s disease
This is the most common form of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease typically emerges in individuals between 50 and 60. The decline in cognitive function is linked to many changes in the brain, including:
- The presence of amyloid plaques (abnormal clumps)
- Neurofibrillary (abnormal tangles)
- Loss of connection between neurons
These changes take place in the area of your brain responsible for memory and language. Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease include memory loss, poor judgment skills, repeating questions, losing things, getting lost, losing a sense of spontaneity, and taking longer to complete tasks.
2. Parkinson’s disease dementia
Parkinson’s disease dementia is the form of dementia that occurs in people who have Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s disease typically causes tremors, muscle stiffness, and shakiness due to changes in a specific region of your brain. However, other changes in your brain 一 such as the deposit of alpha-synuclein proteins 一 can lead to memory problems, decreased mental function, and concentration problems.
As many as 80% of people with Parkinson’s disease later develop Parkinson’s dementia, and the average onset for dementia is 10 years, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Although there isn’t a treatment to undo brain damage or lost neurons, treatments can help slow the progression or improve symptoms.
3. Lewy body dementia
Sometimes called dementia with Lewy bodies, this form of dementia is characterized by Lewy bodies. Lewy bodies, which are alpha-synuclein proteins, are named after Dr. Frederich Lewy, who discovered them. As with Parkinson’s disease dementia, Lewy body dementia leads to a decline in cognitive thinking and reasoning if your brain processes these protein deposits abnormally.
Symptoms of Lewy body dementia include:
- Changing in thinking patterns
- Confusion (degree of confusion can vary from day to day)
- Sleep disturbances
- Trouble interpreting visual data
Lewy body dementia and Parkinson’s disease dementia are similar. You’re more likely to receive a Parkinson’s disease dementia diagnosis if you had Parkinson’s disease before your memory declines. Likewise, hallucinations are more common with Lewy body dementia than Alzheimer’s disease.
4. Frontotemporal dementia
This form of dementia develops if your front lobe nerve cells are damaged. Nerve cell damage in your frontal lobe can lead to memory and behavioral issues. One type of frontotemporal dementia is called behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD), and it can lead to issues with judgment, empathy, self-control, and empathy. Another type of frontotemporal dementia is called primary progressive aphasia (PPA), and it can also lead to speaking and writing difficulties.
While hallucinations are more commonplace with both Lewy body dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (as it progresses), they are less likely to occur with frontotemporal dementia.
How do you know which type of dementia you have?
This is just a snippet of the many types of dementia. Other forms include vascular dementia and mixed dementia. If you or a loved one are starting to spot the early signs of dementia, it can be concerning. You might have a lot of questions, and that’s okay. Two of the first questions you might have are:
- What type of dementia do I have?
- What can I do about it?
Here at Ventura Neuroscience Center in Oxnard, California, our team is experienced in diagnosing and treating many types of neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. During your evaluation, we perform a thorough examination and review all of your symptoms. Cognitive tests, neurological exams, blood tests, genetic scans, and brain scans all help to shape your diagnosis and treatment plan. While there isn’t a cure for dementia, neurodegenerative treatments help to slow the progression of your disease and improve your quality of life.
To learn more about neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease, visit our website.