What are the differences between the types of dementia?

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Image is also in my book, When Someone You Know is Living in a Dementia Care Community, by JHU Press.

Depending on who you ask, there are over seventy—or over 100—types of dementia. It’s really confusing, but dementia is just an umbrella term for a group of diseases related to cognitive loss over time. For example, the most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s

  • The big symptom is memory loss
  • There are two types of Alzheimer’s: early-onset and later-onset
  • Early-onset AD is familial, which means that you are significantly more likely to get it if a first-degree relative has it
  • AD can last up to 15 years

Vascular Dementia

  • The big symptom is trouble with gait/spatial awareness
  • Vascular dementia can be brought on by strokes, cardiovascular issues
  • People with Vascular Dementia do not always have memory problems, especially not in the beginning

Dementia with Lewy Bodies

  • The big symptoms are hallucinations and fluctuating impairment
  • Lewy Body Diseases is actually its own group of diseases, which includes Dementia with Lewy Bodies, Parkinson’s Disease, and Parkinson’s Disease Dementia

Fronto-temporal Lobar Dementia (FTD)

  • There are a few types of FTD, so the symptoms vary between things like: speech impairments, movement-related issues, and behavioral issues 
  • FTD can be diagnosed earlier than most dementias: sometimes it is found in people between the ages of 40 and 60.
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Rachael Wonderlin has a Master’s in Gerontology and is the author of two published books with Johns Hopkins University Press. She owns Dementia By Day, a dementia care consulting company.

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