As an umbrella condition, dementia is typically first diagnosed due to the display of a series of interrelated symptoms.
Depending on those symptoms, dementia falls into one of a series of different types. Some, such as Alzheimer’s disease, are fairly common and well known, while others occur less frequently.
Here are the major types of dementia:
Alzheimer’s disease explained:
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia. Age is the biggest risk factor, but it can affect people at any age. The gradual death of brain cells in the outer cortex leads to loss of memory, language and judgment. Familial (hereditary) Alzheimer’s is very rare; otherwise, causes are unknown.
There is also a very strong link between younger people with Down syndrome who die and Alzheimer’s.
- Loss of memory and focus
- Mood swings.
Vascular dementia explained:
There are a couple of varieties of vascular dementia, caused by issues related to blood flow in the brain. The impact of a series of minor strokes or one large stroke brings on dementia.
- Loss of bladder control
- Mood swings
Frontotemporal dementia (FTD)
Frontotemporal dementia explained:
More common in younger people than other forms of dementia, and affecting people with a higher rate of family history, FTD is caused by deterioration in the frontal lobes or temporal lobe of the brain. The frontal lobes control comprehension of what we see and hear, as well as judgement, planning and mood.
- Loss of motivation and interest in others
- Impulsiveness; loss of inhibition
- Failure to adapt to changed circumstances
- Lack of personal hygiene.
Alcohol related dementia
Alcohol related dementia explained:
This type of dementia is thought to be brought on by damage to the brain caused by the affect alcohol has on the absorption of thiamine. It is observed in people who have consumed large amounts of alcohol, either over a long period or episodically.
- Trouble remembering or learning
- Loss of balance
- Personality changes
- Loss of motivation.
Lewy Body disease
Lewy Body disease explained:
An abnormality called Lewy bodies develop in nerve cells in the brain, leading to the death of these cells. Lewy Body disease is similar to Alzheimer’s, and there are no known risk factors or causes. It can be difficult to distinguish Lewy Body disease from Alzheimer’s or even Parkinson’s disease.
- Loss of concentration
- Confusion and loss of judgement
HIV associated dementia
HIV associated dementia explained:
Some people with HIV/AIDS develop a complication called AIDS Dementia Complex (ADC). This is a complicated condition that can be difficult to diagnose in the early stages, and which usually develops over a long period of time.
- Most symptoms associated with other forms of dementia
- Difficulty walking
- Being confined to bed.
Read next: Stages of dementia