Bruce Willis has been one of my favorite actors since he starred with Cybil Shephard on a television show called Moonlighting many moons ago. His blockbuster movie, Die Hard, was also one of my faves. So, you can imagine how sad I was to hear about his battle with aphasia which is further complicated by a form of dementia.
Now medical experts are actively sharing information about the type of dementia Willis suffers from and what he and his family is experiencing – or will experience – as the disease progresses.
Changes in thinking and memory are a given. However, Willis will likely develop obsessive habits and will also experience changes in his behaviors, language, speech, and emotional control.
Willis has been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, but there are a number of types that fall under the term dementia. Since one of our specialized services is Alzheimer’s and dementia care, it’s important to explore the 5 types of dementia that primarily impact seniors as explained by the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging.
Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common type of dementia, and according to the Alzheimer’s Association, it accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases. Alzheimer’s is a progressive brain disease that leads to broken connections between nerve cells and tissue shrinkage in parts of the brain necessary to memory functions.
Early signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s vary from person to person, but can include difficulty finding words, confusion with time and place, trouble with judging distance and challenges in planning and decision-making.
Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is a type of dementia that affects the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, which are key to maintaining skills related to memory, language, judgment, problem-solving and behavioral and emotional regulation, according to Verywell Health. FTD was once thought to be the rarest form of dementia, but the Alzheimer’s Association now estimates that it makes up to 10 to 15 percent of dementia cases.
Because the frontal lobe plays an essential role in regulating emotion and self-control and guides us to behave in socially acceptable ways, early signs of FTD include changes in behavior, loss of emotional control and obsessive habits. Damage to the temporal lobe can cause language difficulties, so changes to speech patterns are also common to FTD.
Also known as dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), this variety of dementia accounts for five to ten percent of dementia cases, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. It is marked by the presence of Lewy bodies—tiny deposits of protein—in the nerve cells in the brain. Lewy bodies are linked to the loss of connection between these nerve cells, as well as low levels of chemical messengers in the brain.
Because Lewy bodies are also present in Parkinson’s Disease, those with DLB may experience similar symptoms, such as tremors and other difficulties with movement, according to Family Caregiver Alliance. Those with Parkinson’s are also at high risk to develop DLB as their disease progresses.
Other common signs of DLB include sleep problems, hallucinations and difficultly maintaining attention.
Vascular dementia is the second most common variety of dementia, accounting for 20 to 40 percent of dementia cases, according to Verywell Health. Vascular dementia is caused by reduced blood supply to the brain due to blood vessels that are diseased, blocked, leaky or otherwise damaged. Without the necessary blood supply, brain cells die, resulting in decreased memory, thinking and reasoning skills.
Common early signs of vascular dementia include difficulty concentrating, slower speed of thinking, challenges following steps and problems with planning and decision-making.
Mixed dementia occurs when a person has more than one type of dementia. The most common type of mixed dementia is Alzheimer’s/vascular, with the next being Alzheimer’s/Lewy body. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, one in ten of people diagnosed with dementia has evidence of more than one type of dementia present. However, the exact number of cases of mixed dementia is unknown because it is not often diagnosed or identified until an autopsy is performed. Research suggests that it may in fact be quite common, but studies on the subject are still ongoing.
Receiving the diagnosis of dementia is heartbreaking and sad no matter who you are or what type you have. It is a devastating disease that robs senior men and women of their mental health and independence.
If you or a senior you love suffers from any form of dementia and could benefit from specialized care services by skillfully qualified professional, compassionate caregivers who are specifically trained in Alzheimer’s and dementia care through our partnership with the National Certification Board for Alzheimer Care (NCBAC) , I am happy to offer a FREE Consultation to for an accurate assessment of needs, so we can help make life easier so you or your senior loved one can stay independent at home for as long as possible.
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We proudly serve male and female seniors in Clearwater, Dunedin, Palm Harbor, Safety Harbor, Tarpon Springs, Holiday, New Port Richey, Trinity, Port Richey, Hudson, and surrounding areas. Home Helpers®…we are Making Life Easier℠ 727.942.2539
Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging