Of all the things available to us in the world, memories are something that are irreplaceable. We honor our memories by sharing them with others, putting special photos in frames in our houses, and even revisiting certain people or places that are home to some of those memories. When all else is gone, we still have the memories we have made.
Unfortunately, while that might be true for the vast majority of the population, not everyone is able to hold on to the memories they used to hold near and dear. Instead, those memories can become harder and harder to recall, even to the point where they cannot be recalled at all. For those who have dementia, this is what happens on a daily basis. And for their loved ones, the pain that comes with the loss of these memories can be extremely difficult to bear.
If you know someone who has dementia, one of the best things you can do for yourself is learn about the type of dementia they have. There are many different types of dementia, all of which present with their own specific set of symptoms. When you are well-informed of which of the major types of dementia your loved one has, you can gain a better understanding of what they are experiencing and what to expect in the future.
What are the Major Types of Dementia?
There are several different types of dementia, all of which are progressive. This means that they cannot be reversed, rather the symptoms will intensify as time passes. Unfortunately, dementia is a terminal illness, regardless of which major types of dementia people are experiencing.
Alzheimer’s disease impacts approximately 5.8 million Americans. While most people who experience Alzheimer’s disease are over the age of 60, early on-set Alzheimer’s can occur in those between 30 and 60. Individuals who develop Alzheimer’s may exhibit the following symptoms:
- Misplacing items but being unable to retrace their steps
- Memory loss that impacts daily life
- Poor judgment
- Trouble completing daily tasks
- Difficulty handling money
- Confusion regarding time and place
- Experiencing more trips or falls due to difficulties with spatial relations
Generally speaking, the life expectancy of someone who is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease is 4-8 years after diagnosis, however several factors can alter that average time frame. Some individuals can live up to 20 years after their diagnosis, while others may not make it to four. Again, life expectancy is based on factors specific to the individual.
Vascular dementia occurs as a result of vascular complications in the brain. For example, many individuals who experience small, minorly impactful strokes over time are at higher risk for developing vascular dementia because the blood flow in the brain has been blocked due to strokes. As a result, certain areas of the brain suffer, which can cause memory loss and the onset of vascular dementia. Of the major types of dementia, some of the symptoms of vascular dementia include the following:
- Problems walking
- Poor balance
- Stroke symptoms like sudden on-set headaches
- Trouble speaking
- Paralysis or numbness in the face or body
Vascular dementia is highly common in mixed-dementia, which occurs when more than one form of dementia is occurring at the same time. It can be difficult to diagnose, however it is understood that it remains widely underdiagnosed.
Lewy Body Dementia
Of the major types of dementia, Lewy body dementia is the second most common (behind Alzheimer’s disease). This type of dementia occurs because of the abnormal deposit of a certain protein in the brain. These deposits are known as Lewy bodies and they are able to alter the brain’s functioning in ways that impact cognition and memory. The symptoms that are most commonly associated with Lewy body dementia include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Cognitive difficulties
- Sleep problems
- Problems paying attention
- Visual hallucinations
- Poor regulation of body function
Lewy body dementia is most common in people over the age of 60. It is more common in men than in women, and those with Parkinson’s disease are at higher risk for developing this type of dementia than those who do not have it.
Frontotemporal dementia impacts the frontal parts of the brain, such as the frontal and temporal lobes. As a result, it is more common for people with this type of dementia to have more issues relating to behavior and language as opposed to issues relating to memory loss. Symptoms of frontotemporal dementia can include the following:
- Behaving inappropriately and/or impulsively
- Using words incorrectly or having difficulty pronouncing words
- Difficulty remaining organized
- Problems making future plans
- Memory loss (these symptoms often occur much later in this type of dementia)
As with other major types of dementia, frontotemporal dementia is progressive, meaning that symptoms increase in intensity. Some medications and therapies can help in curbing the presence of troublesome symptoms, however cannot cure the dementia itself.
Dementia Treatment in Florida
Dementia is an extremely difficult disease to live with, even if you are not the one who is experiencing it first-hand. At My Psychiatrist, we can help you or a loved one get the care needed to help ease symptoms of all major types of dementia so that life can be lived to its fullest.
Call us right now to learn more about how our team can help.