Dementia is not a single, specific disease, but rather is a term used to describe a wide variety of symptoms associated with memory loss and/or the deterioration of cognitive function, to the point that it severely interferes with a person’s day-to-day life. Dementia exists in many varieties. The most common three include Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, and dementia with Lewy bodies. However, there are less common types of dementia as well, including Parkinson’s disease dementia, frontotemporal dementia, mixed dementia, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. For some of the types of dementia, diagnosis is simple, as the dementia symptoms clearly match the criteria for a certain type of dementia. However, other types of dementia are diagnosed solely based on a doctor’s professional judgment and the diagnosis cannot be confirmed until after death.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, making up between 60-80% of all dementia cases. The disease is associated with a decline in memory function and other cognitive skills to such an extent that it interferes with daily activities. It is often a progressive disease that becomes more aggressive as time goes by.
Vascular dementia is considered the second leading type of dementia, accounting for approximately 20-30% of all dementia cases. Vascular dementia is characterized by diminished cognitive capacity resulting from a condition that reduced or prohibited blood flow to the brain. Blood flow to the brain can be prevented or restricted by a blockage, such as during a stroke, or by a head injury, which could be sustained from an accidental fall, for example. By the nature of its possible causes, it is a sudden onset form of dementia.
Dementia with Lewy Bodies
Dementia with Lewy bodies is the third most prevalent form of dementia. Lewy bodies are the abnormal development of clumps of protein on the cortex of the brain that cause problems with memory, in a way similar to Alzheimer’s disease. Confirmation that Lewy bodies exist cannot be determined until after death and is done so by a post-mortem autopsy. As such, a clinical diagnosis of dementia with Lewy bodies represents a doctor’s best judgment based on the symptoms exhibited by the patient.
Dementia Associated with Parkinson’s Disease
People who have Parkinson’s disease (a progressive disorder of the nervous system that impacts bodily movement) often also develop a progressive form of dementia much akin to Alzheimer’s disease or Lewy bodies dementia.
This is actually a grouping of dementia types that affect the frontal lobe regions of the brain. These disorders largely impact a person’s behavior or ability to move and include behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (person’s personality and behavior change), primary progressive aphasia (a neurological condition that impairs language abilities), corticobasal degeneration movement disorders (shrinkage of the brain over time that impacts movement), and progressive supranuclear palsy (a brain disorder that affects ambulation, balance, and eye movement).
Mixed dementia exists when a person simultaneously exhibits a multitude of brain abnormalities common to other types of dementia.
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is a grouping of rare disorders affecting the brain that causes the brain to deteriorate. The cause is a misfolded protein in the brain that kills clusters of brain cells, leaving behind holes. This type of dementia is the result of the brain being eaten away.
If your loved one is a nursing home resident with a form of dementia, and you believe he or she is not receiving necessary care, please contact The Rooth Law Firm today online or at (800) 350-0646.
Alzheimer’s Association, Types of Dementia