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The Different types of dementia

Updated on August 1, 2013

Dementia is defined as acquired global impairment of intelligence, memory and personality without impairment of consciousness (Lishman, 1998). It is usually progressive disease. Dementia is caused by various types of diseases.

In dementia cognitive functions such as memory, language, abstract thinking and judgment, movements, visuospatial skills and personality are deteriorated. In dementia consciousness is normal except in lewy body dementia.

What are the various types of dementia?

Alzheimer’s disease

This disease accounts for 50 -60% of all dementias. Prominent features are memory loss, especially short term memory, difficulty in speaking, difficulty in walking, and behavioral disturbances such as wandering.

In addition, patients with Alzheimer’s disease show impaired sense of smell in the early course of the disease. It is a progressive disease and usual life expectancy is 5 – 8 years.

Dementia Brain
Dementia Brain | Source

Vascular dementia

This is the second commonest cause of dementia. Around 20 -25 percent of the demented patients have vascular dementia. It is disease characterized by small brain infarctions caused by atherosclerosis. In these patients there are other co-existing vascular diseases such as heart attacks and peripheral vascular disease in the limbs.

Sudden personality change is the usual early presentation. For an example person with previous good social character may speak filth words in public. In addition, these patients show labile mood. However, there insight seems to be preserved. Memory loss usually occurs late. Disease is progressed in stepwise manner. It is more common in men with history of heavy smoking.

Lewy bodies
Lewy bodies

Dementia with lewy bodies

Around 15 -20% of patients with dementia are in this category. This disease is characterized by fluctuating alertness, symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (rigidity, slow movements, resting tremors), visual hallucinations and frequent falls.

This disease is characterized by the presence of lewy bodies inside the affected neurons. These lewy bodies are also seen in the neurons affected by Parkinson’s disease. Patients get this illness usually before 70 years.

Other types of dementias are Fronto temporal dementia characterized by change of behavior, speech problems (Expressive dysphasia), and early loss of insight and early manifestation of primitive reflexes such as sucking reflex seen in infants.

In addition, Hungtington’s disease, Prion diseases and normal pressure hydrocephalus can cause dementia. Prion diseases are transmissible and common disease is Creutzfeldt–Jakob’s disease. Normal pressure hydrocephalus is the only treatable type of dementia.


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    • DonnaCosmato profile image

      Donna Cosmato 6 years ago from USA

      What an interesting and informative hub on the different types of dementia. I'm sharing this with my Facebook and Twitter friends as I feel that this is a subject that everyone is interested in (and voted up).

    • njmanura profile image

      Dr Manura Nanayakkara 6 years ago from Sri Lanka

      Very good question, depression can cause apparent memory impairment and it is called depressive pseudodementia. In dementia, person forgets immediate memories but remembers thins happened long time ago. In depression, all the memories are equally affects. It occurs due to slowness in thinking that is seen in depression. Depressive pseudodementia improves when the depression is treated. However, sometimes it is difficult to differentiate both conditions without proper cognitive assessment.

      Hope this helps

    • wordpaintrix profile image

      wordpaintrix 6 years ago from Huntington, WV

      very well written and informative. Can major depression cause dementia? symptoms like not being able to remember simple numbers,series of directions, spatial reasoning deficits,and time distortion? Yet the person is aware of their cognitive deficiencies and make a determined compensation to be able to function in a nearly normal way? Will it get better as the depression lessons? Or could it be something in addition to or causing the depression?