Community Blog

The Many Forms of Dementia

By Debbie Humphrey

The word “dementia” gets used a lot in my profession, and sometimes, people single it out as a separate diagnosis from Alzheimer’s disease. Dementia is, essentially, a generic term used for many different forms of mental decline, including Alzheimer’s.

In Florida, seniors with dementia are a large segment of our population. It depends which form of dementia each has, to determine their individual abilities and levels of function.

In consideration of “Brain Awareness Week,” recognized March 13-19, I felt compelled to share more information to clarify details and minimize confusion about dementia. The Alzheimer’s Association lists the following “Types of Dementia:”

Home Helpers Clearwater DementiaAlzheimer's disease: The most common type of dementia; Accounts for 60-80% of cases, it is a slowly progressive disease that can begin before symptoms emerge. Symptoms include: “Difficulty remembering recent conversations, names or events is often an early clinical symptom; apathy and depression are also often early symptoms. Later symptoms include impaired communication, poor judgment, disorientation, confusion, behavior changes and difficulty speaking, swallowing and walking.”

Vascular dementia: Also known as post-stroke dementia, it occurs less frequently, in 10% of cases. Symptoms include: “Impaired judgment or ability to make decisions, plan or organize is more likely to be the initial symptom, as opposed to the memory loss often associated with the initial symptoms of Alzheimer's. Occurs from blood vessel blockage or damage leading to infarcts (strokes) or bleeding in the brain. The location, number and size of the brain injury determine how the individual's thinking and physical functioning are affected.”

Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB): Like Alzheimer’s, patients have memory loss and problems thinking. Unlike Alzheimer’s, sufferers show early symptoms including sleep disturbances, visual hallucinations, slowness, gait imbalance or other “parkinsonian movement features.”

Mixed dementia: More common than previously believed, this occurs when multiple forms of dementia, or symptoms thereof, are present simultaneously, “most commonly, Alzheimer's and vascular dementia, but also other types, such as dementia with Lewy bodies.”

Parkinson's disease: A “progressive dementia,” much like Alzheimer’s and DLB, occurs as Parkinson’s disease evolves in the patient. This disease does not discriminate by only affecting seniors. Problems with movement and tremors are common.

Frontotemporal dementia: “Includes dementias such as behavioral variant FTD (bvFTD), primary progressive aphasia, Pick's disease, corticobasal degeneration and progressive supranuclear palsy…Symptoms Include: changes in personality and behavior and difficulty with language. Nerve cells in the front and side regions of the brain are especially affected.”

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease: Also known as CJD or “mad cow disease,” this can occur in humans and some mammals, and is “the most common human form of a group of rare, fatal brain disorders. (This is a) rapidly fatal disorder that impairs memory and coordination and causes behavior changes.”

Normal pressure hydrocephalus: This occurs when there is excessive cerebrospinal fluid in the brain that causes thinking and reasoning difficulties, ambulatory issues, and incontinence.

Huntington's disease: “a progressive brain disorder caused by a single defective gene on chromosome 4…that presents in abnormal involuntary movements, a severe decline in thinking and reasoning skills, and irritability, depression and other mood changes.”

Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome: Also referred to as “alcoholic dementia,” “Korsakoff syndrome is a chronic memory disorder caused by severe deficiency of thiamine (vitamin B-1)…and alcohol misuse.”

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with some form of dementia, and you are unable to be a caregiver to assist them with activities of daily living, please reach out to me.

Home Helpers® proudly serves patients with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia in Clearwater, Dunedin, Palm Harbor, Safety Harbor, Tarpon Springs, Holiday, New Port Richey, Trinity, Port Richey, Hudson and surrounding areas. Contact us today to learn more about all the ways our compassionate caregivers can assist through Home Helpers®. We are Making Life Easier℠. 727-972-2539

Source: Alzheimer’s Association