Memory Support - May 15, 2022

Rivertown Ridge Explains Common Types of Dementia

When someone you love receives a dementia diagnosis, it is an emotional time. While you may find relief in having an explanation for your loved one’s symptoms, this diagnosis can bring up a dozen more questions – some you may not even think to ask yet.

Not knowing how dementia will affect your loved one and your family or what to expect in the coming days can be overwhelming. However, a professional diagnosis means you can take the next steps toward educating yourself on dementia and dementia care.

To help you get started, our team at Rivertown Ridge explains some of the common types of dementia.

What is Dementia?

According to the National Institute on Aging, “dementia is the loss of cognitive functioning – thinking, remembering, and reasoning – to such an extent that it interferes with a person’s daily life and activities.” Dementia is also a progressive condition with symptoms that will worsen over time.

Because of the nature of dementia, the sooner it is diagnosed, the sooner it can be managed. “An early diagnosis opens the door to future care and treatment. It helps people to plan ahead while they are still able to make important decisions on their care and support needs and on financial and legal matters. It also helps them and their families to receive practical information, advice and guidance as they face new challenges (”

Understanding your parent or family member’s diagnosis and type of dementia allows your family to move forward by creating a dementia care plan with their doctor.

4 Common Types of Dementia

But what happens in the brain to cause dementia? Dementia is caused by damage to or loss of nerve cells and their connections in the brain. These varying conditions impact the brain in different ways and cause different symptoms.

Alzheimer’s Disease

Accounting for 60 to 80 percent of cases, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. In Alzheimer’s disease, abnormal proteins called plaques (clumps of the beta-amyloid protein) and tangles (fibrous tangles of the tau protein) develop and disrupt the healthy connections between the neurons and nerve cells in the brain.

As more and more of these connections are lost, the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, such as memory loss, mood or personality changes, confusion about time, etc., become more prevalent.

It is still unclear what causes Alzheimer’s disease, but researchers agree the causes probably include a combination of age-related changes in the brain, along with genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors.

Frontotemporal Dementia

Although it is less known, “Frontotemporal dementia is the most common form of dementia for people under age 60 (AFTD).”

With Frontotemporal dementia, the nerve cells and their connections found in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain break down. Because these areas of the brain are often associated with personality, behavior, and language, individuals diagnosed with Frontotemporal dementia experience changes in behavior, personality, thinking, and reasoning.

Lewy Body Dementia

According to the National Institute on Aging, “Lewy body dementia is a disease associated with abnormal deposits of a protein called alpha-synuclein in the brain. These deposits, called Lewy bodies, affect chemicals in the brain whose changes, in turn, can lead to problems with thinking, movement, behavior, and mood.”

Following Alzheimer’s disease and Vascular dementia, Lewy Body dementia is the third most common type of dementia, accounting for 5 to 10 percent of cases.

Mixed Dementia

Mixed dementia is a condition where brain changes of more than one cause of dementia occur simultaneously. Instead of having only one type of dementia, like Alzheimer’s disease, an individual is living with multiple forms of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Lewy Body dementia, at the same time.

Mixed dementia is more common than researchers previously realized. As more and more studies are conducted, results show that having more than one type of dementia may have a greater impact on the brain and can increase the chances of a person developing symptoms.

Understanding your loved one’s diagnosis and learning about dementia is one of the first steps to navigating your dementia care journey.

At Rivertown Ridge, we offer memory support and dementia care to help individuals and families navigate this part of life. If you would like to learn more, we encourage you to visit our website.