Different types of Dementia

Alzheimer's Disease

  • Alzheimer's disease damages the brain, resulting in impaired memory, thinking and behaviour
  • The biggest risk factor for having Alzheimer’s disease is increasing age, with three in ten people over 85 having dementia
  • Sporadic Alzheimer’s disease can affect anyone of any age
  • Familial Alzheimer’s disease is a very rare genetic condition, with an age of onset of less than 65 years

Vascular Dementia

Vascular dementia is the broad term for dementia associated with problems of circulation of blood to the brain.

Lewey Body Disease

Lewy body disease is caused by the degeneration and death of nerve cells in the brain. The name comes from the presence of abnormal spherical structures, called Lewy bodies, which develop inside nerve cells. It is thought that these may contribute to the death of the brain cells. They are named after the doctor who first wrote about them. It is sometimes referred to as Diffuse Lewy body disease.

Frontotemporal Dementia

Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is the name given to dementia when it is due to progressive damage to the frontal and/or temporal lobes of the brain.

The right and left frontal lobes at the front of the brain are involved in mood, social behaviour, attention, judgement, planning and self-control. Damage can lead to reduced intellectual abilities and changes in personality, emotion and behaviour.

The right and left temporal lobes at the two sides of the brain are involved in processing what we hear and understanding what we hear and see. Damage may lead to difficulty recognising objects or understanding or expressing language.

FTD is sometimes called frontotemporal lobar degeneration. It was first described 100 years ago by Arnold Pick and was previously referred to as Pick’s disease.

The symptoms of FTD depend on which areas of the brain are damaged. In contrast to Alzheimer’s disease, memory often remains unaffected in FTD, especially in the early stages. When the frontal lobes are affected first, the main changes are in personality and behaviour, and this is called behavioural-variant FTD. When the temporal lobes are affected first, there is a loss of language skills. There are two types of FTD where language is impaired – progressive nonfluent aphasia and semantic dementia.

Alcohol related Dementia

Alcohol related dementia, as the name suggests, is a form of dementia related to the excessive drinking of alcohol. This affects memory, learning and other mental functions. Korsakoff’s syndrome and Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome are particular forms of alcohol related brain injury which may be related to alcohol related dementia.

Down Syndrome

Down syndrome is a genetic disorder caused when, due to a biological error at the time of conception, a person has 3 copies of chromosome 21 in every cell body instead of the usual pair, so upsetting the gene balance. This extra gene material causes a collection of characteristics which can result in some degree of developmental delay and some common physical traits.

HIV associated Dementia

When someone has the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) they may develop a complication to the disease which is known as HIV associated dementia, or as AIDS Dementia Complex (ADC).

ADC is a complicated syndrome made up of different nervous system and mental symptoms that can develop in some people with HIV disease. The incidence of ADC is uncommon in people with the early stages of the disease, but may increase as the disease advances to around 7% in people not taking anti-HIV drugs.

Not everyone who has HIV/AIDS will develop ADC, but some will.

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