What Are The Forms Of Dementia?

Dementia is one of several illnesses that cause a continuous decline in the mental abilities of a person.  There are several different forms that dementia can take on, and the term is used to describe a large amount of symptoms, including a loss of memory, the ability to think rationally, a decline in social skills, a loss of intellect, and changes to what would be normal emotional reactions.

The first and most well known form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease.  Alzheimer’s disease accounts for somewhere between fifty and seventy percent of all the cases of dementia.  It is a degenerative disease that aims straight for the brain, and with subtle symptoms, it may not be detected until it is too late.  To start with, the early symptoms include memory loss, getting confused or lost in a conversation, and routine tasks become longer and more difficult.  The changes continue to progress, until in the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease the victim is unable to think for themselves, and requires around the clock supervision.

The second type of dementia is vascular dementia, and it is the second most common form of dementia.  Most of the problems associated with vascular dementia have to do with blood circulation.  To start with, there will be general problems for blood trying to reach the brain, which will cause strokes.  This inevitably results in the decline of mental abilities.  Vascular dementia may seem to be similar to Alzheimer’s, as vascular dementia is usually associated with strokes, which contribute to a decline in mental abilities.  Since these two forms of dementia are similar, it can be difficult to pinpoint which one a patient has, and in the worst cases there may even be a mixture of the two.

Parkinson’s disease is essentially a disorder of the central nervous system.  Generally, people who have Parkinson’s will have difficulty performing any physical movement, and they may also have a speech impediment of some sort.  Their limbs and joints will be stiff as well.  Medication has been known to improve the physical problems associated with Parkinson’s disease, but it can have drastic side effects that go as far as hallucinations and confusion.

Large amounts of people who are diagnosed with dementia have been found to have Lewy bodies in the nerve cells in their brain.  These Lewy bodies are considered to be a catalyst for the death of the cells, which in turn brings on dementia.  In this type of dementia, the symptoms will fluctuate wildly in severity from day to day – some days there will be no symptoms at all, and other times the symptoms will be so strong it’ll be difficult to function.  Lewy bodies can occur with any of the other forms of dementia, most notably Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia.

Korsakoffs syndrome – also known as alcohol dementia, is a less common form of dementia.  This form of dementia is completely preventable.  Essentially what happens is that since alcohol is a poison, when you ingest too much of it, it can cause irreversible brain damage.  The most susceptible part of the brain is the part that is responsible for memory, planning and organizing, social judgment, as well as other social skills and balance.  This form is completely preventable, which is why you should always drink only a small, safe amount of alcohol.

Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) deals with a few related forms of dementia, which begin in the brain’s frontal lobe, temporal lobe or both.  The symptoms have a wide variety, depending on which part of the brain is affected.  Usually this form of dementia will occur prior to Alzheimer’s disease, and there may be a change in the victim’s personality or language.  Eventually this form of dementia will progress, and enter other areas of the brain.

There are several different signs of dementia, and if you have any of the symptoms you should go to your doctor immediately: frequent memory loss, additional confusion, a change in personality, withdrawal and apathy, and you’ll be unable to do normal, everyday tasks.  Once again, if you have any of those symptoms, it may be the onset of dementia.

The key thing to remember is that dementia is a single word used to describe a variety of different symptoms, most notably memory loss.  There are many different forms, each which progress at different rates, so it is imperative that you find out which form you’re dealing with in order to know what to expect.