Dementia is a term used to describe a variety of disorders that are caused by severe changes in the brain, especially areas of the brain related to language, memory, reasoning and decision-making.
These changes cause memory loss, changes in behavior and personality, and difficulty in performing basic day-to-day tasks and activities, among other symptoms.
What Are the Different Types of Dementia?
The various types of dementia are classified according to their causes. According to WebMD, there are as many as 50 different types. Here we’ll go over some of the most common forms of dementia.
Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia. According to Healthline, between 60 and 80 percent of people with dementia have Alzheimer’s disease. This neurological disorder gradually breaks down brain tissue over time, causing people affected by it to steadily lose their memory. As it progresses, people with Alzheimer's may have trouble communicating, feel disoriented and confused, have dramatic mood swings, develop coordination problems, have trouble with daily activities and become unable to recognize familiar people and places, among many other symptoms of the continuing deterioration of brain tissue and function.
Vascular dementia is also a very common form of dementia, second only to Alzheimer’s disease. It is caused by poor blood flow to the brain. It is most common in older adults and can often be traced back to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) or stroke. Symptoms of this type of dementia can include memory problems, trouble concentrating, difficulties with planning and/or organizing, trouble following instructions, and/or feeling disoriented or getting lost in familiar surroundings. Symptoms may develop gradually over months or years, or may appear or worsen quite suddenly.
Dementia with Lewy bodies
Commonly called Lewy body dementia (LBD), this type of dementia also ranks as one of the most common. It is caused by a build up of protein deposits in nerve cells, which inhibits their function. This can cause symptoms that include memory loss, disorientation, hallucinations, sleep disorders, tremors, muscle weakness and coordination problems.
Frontotemporal dementia (FTD)
This type of dementia affects the front and side areas of the brain, which are responsible for controlling language and behavior. Common symptoms of this form of dementia include compulsive behavior, loss of inhibitions, lack of motivation and language issues, such as forgetting the meanings of everyday words.
This is when people have more than one type of dementia, and is very common. The most frequent combination is Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia. Mixed dementia can cause a wide range of symptoms that vary from one person to another, including memory loss, disorientation and changes in mood, behavior and personality. Most will eventually experience communication problems and coordination/mobility issues.
Other common types of dementia are related to degenerative neurological diseases, such as Parkinson's disease, Huntington’s disease and some forms of multiple sclerosis. Some may be caused by traumatic brain injuries or infections that affect the central nervous system, including meningitis and HIV.