Dementia consists of multiple conditions that roughly affect more than 944,000 individuals in the UK.
Affecting 1 in 11 people over the age of 65 in the UK, it is extremely important that we understand what it is, in order to better support our loved ones and vulnerable members of the community.
Dementia is used as an umbrella term to describe a range of conditions that share similarities in the symptoms they present with.
The most common types of Dementia include Alzheimer’s disease, Vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, and Frontotemporal dementia.
The key differences between these types of Dementia are slight variation in symptoms, causes and physiology.
This is why Dementia often refers to a set of symptoms that are commonly associated with the different types of Dementia, rather than a specific condition.
What are the different types of Dementia?
Alzheimer’s is the most common type of Dementia, making up 60-80% of all cases.
The most common symptoms include memory loss, impaired judgment, personality changes, and difficulties with daily tasks.
It occurs when brain cells lose functioning and eventually die, causing the cortex of the brain to shrink, resulting in more white matter.
This is due to the abnormal build-up of plaques around the brain cells by the protein amyloid. Alzheimer’s usually has a late onset, and not proven to be hereditary.
The next most common type of Dementia is Vascular Dementia, making up 20% of all cases of Dementia.
Vascular Dementia has similar symptoms to Alzheimer’s disease, but also may include difficulty with speech, decision making and concentrating.
Vascular Dementia occurs when an individual experiences a blood clot in the brain (also known as a stroke) which in turn reduces blood flow to the brain, damaging and eventually killing brain cells.
Lewy Bodies Dementia
Dementia with Lewy Bodies is the next type of Dementia, making up 10-15% of all cases.
Lewy Body Dementia presents with different symptoms to the previous types of Dementia, including muscle rigidity or stiffness, loss of coordination and difficulties with mobility.
Dementia with Lewy bodies is caused by clumps of protein forming inside brain cells called Lewy bodies.
This in turn causes the decay of tissues in the brain.
The final example of the types of Dementia is Frontotemporal Dementia, making up 10-20% of all cases.
It is the most common type that occurs in the younger population ranging from 45-64 years old.
In most cases, the cause for this type of Dementia is unknown; however, there is a genetic element which increases the risk of developing Frontoteporal Dementia.
The physiology of this type of Dementia is similar to Lewy bodies, forming clumps of protein deposits in the brain cells, causing them to lose function and eventually die.
Ultimately, the cause of Dementia is still unknown. However, some research suggests that lifestyle and environmental factors may have an effect on the risk of developing Dementia.
It is also possible to have something called mixed Dementia, meaning an individual is living with more than one type of Dementia.
These individuals would experience a mixture of the symptoms associated with the types of dementia they have.
We specialise in providing specialist support to people that live with Dementia, helping them meet their Dementia care needs. Please contact us for more information of how we can support you or your loved one.