5 Common Forms of Dementia

Dementia is a collective term that refers to different kinds of cognitive impairment conditions. It refers to symptoms that affect the social, memory and thought processing abilities of a person including poor judgment, memory loss, personality changes and communication difficulties. Dementia symptoms can be very severe to the extent of interfering with a patient’s day to day functioning and quality of life. People who have dementia may experience challenges such as short-term memory, paying bills, remembering appointments, tracking their wallets or purse or getting out of the neighborhood.

It is critical for health practitioners and care providers to note these symptoms to ensure patients get timely and adequate medical care. Most forms of dementia are progressive. This means that signs begin slowly and get worse gradually. Early detection enables a patient to get maximum benefits from the treatment process and allows them time to make future plans.

Dementia occurs in different forms. Depending on the cause, some dementia symptoms can be reversed. These include those caused by dehydration, lead exposure, alcohol abuse, immune disorders, infections, multiple sclerosis, endocrine and metabolic irregularities like low glucose levels, underactive or over-active thyroid, fluctuations in sodium or calcium and vitamin deficiencies among others.

Here are the 5 most common forms of dementia:

1.Alzheimer’s Dementia

Among persons aged 65 and above, Alzheimer’s disease is the main cause of dementia. Dementia resulting from Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of all dementia cases. People with this disease experience memory loss in short spans, difficulty in identifying right words and poor judgment in early stages. However, as the disease progresses, cognition deteriorate paving way for psychological and behavioral signs of dementia to become evident. Psychological signs include depression, changes in personality, anxiety, paranoia, hallucinations, inappropriate behavior and agitation. After diagnosis, persons with Alzheimer’s disease can live for up to twenty years. However, life expectancy of such patients ranges between eight and ten years on average.

2.Lewy Body Dementia

This is the most common form of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease. Patients with this form of dementia tend to have irregular protein clumps known as Lewy bodies in the brain. At initial stages, patients experience muscle rigidity, motor weakness, memory impairment, reduced attention spans and problems with making decisions. With this form of dementia, brain symptoms manifest before physical symptoms become manifest. Progression of this condition tends to be very quiet, even on a day to day. After diagnosis, life expectancy varies based on various basis but generally averages eight years.


3.Vascular Dementia

This form of dementia occurs as a result of damage to blood vessels that supply blood to the brain. The damage may result for conditions such as stroke.  At early stages, patients may experience symptoms such as memory loss, challenges finding words and executive functions, as well as reduced processing speed. These signs may be linked to a stroke, a passing ischemic event or an undetected small vessel problem that could include brain changes like narrowed arteries or white matter lesions. Vascular dementia tends to progress step by step as opposed to gradually as in the case of Alzheimer’s. This means patients with this condition can function with stability for some time after manifestation of initial signs. They then move to the next level and remain there for extended period of time until the next decline occurs. In the case of vascular dementia, life expectancy varies depending of the amount of damage in the brain and frequency of strokes.

4.Parkinson’s Dementia

Dementia resulting from Parkinson’s disease is a type of Lewy body dementia. It involves physical changes such as muscle rigidity and weakness as well as slow movement. It also involves brain changes including loss of memory, reduced attention spans and poor judgment. With this form of dementia, mobility and motor signs manifest about a year before cognitive symptoms manifest. Dementia related to Parkinson’s disease progresses in a gradual manner over time. As it progresses, patients experience increased confusion and hallucinations, frequent falls and decreased physical functionality. Life expectancy of patients with this condition varies depending on how healthy a person is and at what age they developed Parkinson’s disease.

5.Frontotemporal Dementia

This form of dementia results from degeneration of nerve cells on the brain’s temporal and frontal lobes. These sections of the brain help with language, behavior and personality. Frontotemporal dementia occurs mostly in people of younger age. Initial signs may include behavior and personality changes rather than difficulties associated with cognitive changes. People with this form of dementia seem to act inappropriately and tend not to care about others. As the condition progresses, the patient’s memory, physical abilities, communication, including ability to understand things and express self, decline. Life expectancy for patients after diagnosis of this condition ranges between two and twenty years, depending on the kind of frontotemporal dementia the person develops. 

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