In this article we will explore some of the common types of dementia, what their main symptoms and root causes are, as well as possible treatments.
How many types of dementia are there
There are actually more than 400 different types of dementia. Some of them are well researched and common, and some are more rare.
In general, dementia is much more common among elderly people, who are over 65 years old, although there are also cases of young people who suffer from dementia.
In most types of dementia, the disease is progressive and the brain dysfunctions usually start years before the external symptoms start to show up.
The first signs of dementia are usually light, and can be easily confused with normal aging, or memory loss that is a result of lack of motivation, stress or low energy.
As the disease progresses however, the symptoms become more and more severe and in the late stages of dementia, a person cannot take care of himself and function independently and needs 24/7 support.
Common dementia types
We will explore further details of the most common dementia types: Alzheimer’s disease, Frontotemporal dementia, Lewy body dementia, and Vascular dementia.
The most common type of dementia among elderly people is Alzheimer’s disease. It can, however, develop among people in their 30s or 40s as well, especially if the disease runs in their family.
Alzeheimer’s disease takes years to develop, and is a very progressive disease. The early signs are very mild, and in most cases, it takes years until the person is actually diagnosed (usually only in the middle stage, when the symptoms start to get worse and worse, and the person starts to need more assistance in simple, day to day tasks).
The common traits of Alzheimer’s disease are difficulties in forming new memories (short-term memory), difficulties with language and difficulties remembering familiar roads and places.
The main cause of Alzheimer’s disease is an accumulation of abnormal clumps of protein in the brain, which causes severe damage and eventually death of brain cells.
Frontotemporal dementia (FTD)
Frontotemporal dementia, or frontotemporal degenerations are terms that are referring to disorders that are physically caused by progressive death of nerve cells in the brain’s frontal lobes (behind your forehead) or its temporal lobes (the area in the brain behind your ears).
The damage that is caused to the nerve cells in people who suffer from frontotemporal dementia manifests as difficulties in communication and emotional/social behaviour.
Damage to the frontal lobes affects one’s ability to structure and organize their tasks as well as their social behavior. It might manifest as socially inappropriate behaviour and a misunderstanding of social codes.
Damage to the temporal lobes affects one’s ability to speak and comprehend what other people are saying to them.
Lewy body dementia (LBD)
Lewy body dementia is a progressive kind of dementia that manifests as a decline in the ability to focus, reason, concentrate and solve problems, due to abnormal microscopic deposits that create damage in the brain cells.
The symptoms of Lewy body dementia include mainly difficulties in thinking and reasoning, but also confusion, anxiousness and alertness that might change significantly from one day to the other.
Other symptoms of Lewy body dementia are more physical: slowness, imbalance in walking and disorientation.
In some cases, people who suffer from lewy body dementia might also experience visual hallucination, delusions and severe sleep disturbances.
Vascular dementia is caused by a reduction in blood flow to certain regions in the brain, depriving them from oxygen and nutrients, and results in difficulties in thinking and concentrating. This happens due to a narrowing or complete blockages of blood veins in the brain.
Lack of blood flow to the brain is very dangerous and kills brain cells progressively. In the case of vascular dementia, this manifests as mild to severe difficulties in thinking and concentrating.
The impact of vascular dementia varies widely, from minor to highly severe, depending on how much damage has been created in the brain. Memory loss is a significant symptom of vascular dementia, although not the only one.
The symptoms of vascular dementia can be very obvious, especially when they start soon after a brain stroke, and include severe confusion, trouble concentrating, difficulty speaking or understanding language, disorientation and poor balance.
There are many researches and different approaches in regards to effective treatment for dementia. The proper treatment is dependent of course on the dementia type one is suffering from, and the severity.
There are plenty of medications that are being prescribed to dementia patients, although their affect is limited, and they have a lot of side effects.
Recent studies support the effectiveness of natural solutions, especially when they are combined with a healthy lifestyle and nutrition, as these can stimulate and support the brain self-healing mechanism in an organic way, and have no side effects.