What Are The Different Types Of Dementia?

Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe the loss of memory and cognitive function, among other mental abilities. These changes are so severe they alter how a person functions daily, whether mentally or physically. According to WebMD, dementia is most common among those above the age of 65, but particularly age 80. Up to half of people in their 80s have some form of dementia.

Memory loss is one of the earliest signs of dementia, but not everyone who experiences memory loss has dementia. Mayo Clinic reports that other symptoms of dementia include both cognitive and psychological changes. For example, in addition to memory loss, cognitive changes of dementia include confusion and difficulty communicating, problem-solving, reasoning, organizing, and more. Dementia can leave behind psychological changes, changing a person's mood. Anxiety, depression, personality changes, and paranoia are only some of the psychological changes a dementia patient may experience. Loss or damage of nerve cells is what causes dementia; however, the reasons behind the damage are still being studied.

The common types of dementia

While there are many different types of dementia, according to the Alzheimer's Association, Alzheimer's disease is the most common type. Alzheimer's disease makes up 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases, with many people experiencing memory loss first, and then difficulty interacting with others. The disease is progressive, meaning it worsens over time. After a person is diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, they typically live four to eight more years; however, some patients live decades after their diagnosis.

Lewy body dementia and vascular dementia are also common types of dementia. Lewy body dementia involves the presence of Lewy bodies, or abnormal structures in the brain. Dementia Australia reports Lewy body dementia progresses faster than Alzheimer's, but like the other types of dementia, does not have a cure. Vascular dementia involves issues with blood circulating to the brain, and can affect anyone, but is found more in men than women (via Dementia Australia).

In order for dementia to be diagnosed, a doctor will assess the patient via a physical exam and then likely run laboratory tests, according to the National Institute on Aging. Some causes of dementia can be treated if caught early. Regardless, doctors will be able to help patients and their caregivers manage symptoms.