What is Dementia?

Dementia, by definition, refers to the symptoms that are presented when brain cells stop working as they should. It is not a disease in itself.

How many different types of Dementia are there? You may be surprised to learn that there are in fact over 100 different conditions that cause Dementia symptoms, resulting in different types of Dementia that cause varying changes within the brain.

If you or your loved one is presenting signs of Dementia, it’s vital that you have access to as much information as possible about the challenges that lie ahead. Here, we take a look at the different types of Dementia and what these conditions entail for the individual.

Different forms of Dementia

Alzheimer’s

What is Alzheimer’s disease? It is thought that Alzheimer’s is the leading cause of Dementia in the UK; it is estimated to be responsible for up to 70% of all Dementia cases.

Alzheimer’s is now considered a slowly progressive brain disease that actually begins well before the individual starts to show any symptoms.

What are the early signs of Alzheimer’s?

  • Memory loss and difficulty remembering recent conversions and events
  • Repeating questions after just a short period of time
  • Misplacing items, or leaving them in strange places
  • Feeling disorientated or getting lost
  • Depression, irritability and apathy

As time progresses, the patient may begin to display the following symptoms:

  • Impaired communication
  • Confusion
  • Poor judgement
  • Difficulty speaking and swallowing
  • Changes in behaviour and mood

Read more about the key symptoms of Alzheimer’s, and how to care for those living with Alzheimer’s.

Vascular Dementia

What is  Vascular Dementia? Otherwise known as vascular cognitive impairment, Vascular Dementia is the second most common cause of Dementia. Depending on the changes that are happening in the brain, the condition can be identified as one of two types of Vascular Dementia:

Stroke-related Dementia – meaning that it has developed after a stroke, or a series of smaller strokes; or

Subcortical Vascular Dementia – meaning that it is caused by changes to small blood vessels.

The main way to distinguish Vascular Dementia from Alzheimer’s is by assessing the initial symptoms closely. Those who are eventually diagnosed with vascular dementia may not suffer memory loss in the early stages of the condition, but will instead have an inability to plan or make decisions, combined in many cases with poor or impaired judgement.

Dementia with Lewy bodies (abbreviated to DLB)

Waht is Lewy Body Dementia? It’s the third most prevalent type of Dementia, affecting around 100,000 people in the UK, is DLB.

What are some of the DLB symptoms?

  • Cognitive problems
  • Memory loss
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Visual hallucinations
  • Symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease including slowness or gait imbalance

Frontotemporal Dementia

This is a general term for a number of different types of Dementia, including:

  • Behavioral variant FTD (bvFTD)
  • Primary progressive aphasia
  • Pick’s disease
  • Corticobasal degeneration
  • Progressive supranuclear palsy

Frontotemporal Dementia is characterised by more pronounced changes in personality, changes in behaviour, and difficulty with recalling language.

Huntington’s disease

What is Huntington’s disease? It specifically affects cells in the centre of the brain, which leads to problems with movement, mood and cognitive skills. It is a progressive brain disorder that can affect younger patients – often those aged between 30 and 50 – and it is also known to cause severe changes in mood, along with OCD-like symptoms. Its core symptom, however, is the inability to control the movement of the arms, leads, head, face and upper body.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, or CJD, is a type of fatal prion disease that leads to rapid degeneration. Variant CJD is familiar to many as “mad cow disease” and can be transmitted from cattle to humans.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is a rare brain disorder that greatly impairs memory and co-ordination, and can lead to significant behavioural changes. Symptoms include:

  • Agitation
  • Depression
  • Disorientation
  • Impaired judgement
  • Difficulty walking
  • May experience stiffness, twitchy and involuntary movement in their muscles.

Normal pressure hydrocephalus

Caused by a build-up of fluid in the brain, this type of Dementia leads to memory loss, difficulty walking, and problems with bladder control.

Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome

Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome is normally caused by alcohol abuse and can be linked back to a vitamin B-1 deficiency in the individual. Those with the condition will struggle to remember recent events and have large gaps in their memory (but may still display reasonable thinking and social skills).

Parkinson’s disease

Dementia can develop as a result of Parkinson’s disease. The patient will have difficulty moving fluidly, and may also display similar symptoms to those present with DLB.

Mixed Dementia

What is Mixed Dementia? It occurs when the individual is presenting symptoms that relate to more than one type of dementia. The most common combination is Alzheimer’s and Vascular Dementia, but many others are possible.

Caring for someone with Dementia at home

The type of Dementia present in the individual will affect the level of ongoing support that they require. Our highly trained live-in carers have an in-depth knowledge of the varying conditions that can lead to Dementia symptoms. As part of our live-in care services, our carers can tailor their care packages to suit the distinctive needs of the individual.

For more information on the many benefits of live in care services for those with dementia, please contact Independent People Homecare today on 0800 471 4741.