Types of dementia
Dementia comes in several main types, with Alzheimer’s disease being the most common. Each type presents unique early symptoms, affecting individuals differently. Some people even experience mixed dementia, showing signs of multiple types. All dementias are characterized by the alteration of cognitive functions and behaviour, producing loss of autonomy. However, depending on the cause and the affected brain areas, some symptoms will predominate and the evolution will be different.
Alzheimer’s Disease: This is the most common form of dementia, which affects between 60% and 80% of people with dementia. It damages brain cells and nerves, interrupting the transmission of messages within the brain. This disruption affects in particular the transmitters which are responsible of memory storage. The early symptoms often include memory, thinking, language, or perception issues. Alzheimer’s disease tends to get worse over time, leading to a total loss of autonomy.
Vascular Dementia: This is the second in prevalence. It’s caused by problems in the supply of blood to the brain, commonly due to strokes or ‘mini strokes’. The symptoms of vascular dementia are often similar to Alzheimer’s disease, such as memory problems, disorientation and difficulty with communication, difficulties in planning and in making decisions.
Dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB): it leads to focus problems, delusions, movement and sleep issues. People with DLB can have trouble swallowing, be prone to fall or have temblors. DLB is closely related to Parkinson’s disease. Memory is often less affected than with other types of dementia.
Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD): Less common, FTD can mostly alter personality, mood and behaviour and emotions. Frontotemporal dementia can be difficult to diagnose. It’s sometimes confused with depression, stress, anxiety, psychosis or obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Frontotemporal dementia can cause inappropriate social behaviour and a lack of inhibitions.
Understanding these types helps us provide targeted support and care!