4 MOST COMMON Types of Dementia


Have more questions and don't know where to turn?

Join our community and get access to monthly support calls, an online chat forum for questions, and even monthly 1:1 calls with Rachael! CLICK HERE for more information.


Today’s topic is all about the four most common types of dementia.

People ask me all the time, what is dementia? And dementia just means cognitive loss over time. That’s it. If you go to the doctor and the doctor says that you have cancer, what’s your next question? What type of cancer is it? That should be your question here. If you go to the doctor and the doctor says that your loved one has dementia, you should say, what type of dementia is it?

We’re going to talk about the four most common types of dementia. The first and most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. So when people say to you, what’s the difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia? That’s like saying, what’s the difference between cancer and skin cancer? Alzheimer’s is the most common type of cognitive loss.

Alzheimer’s is characterized by short-term memory loss. That’s the main thing you’re going to notice with people with Alzheimer’s disease. They do have mood issues. They do have trouble with planning and, and making decisions and all of that. But the first thing you’re going to notice about somebody with Alzheimer’s disease is that their short-term memory is really poor.

Another really common type of dementia and one that sometimes overlaps with Alzheimer’s disease is called vascular dementia. Vascular dementia is caused by things like cardiovascular issues like strokes. People who have diabetes are obese, don’t exercise, don’t eat well, and smoke are more likely to have vascular dementia. Vascular dementia also affects somebody’s short-term memory. But the first thing you’re probably going to notice about somebody with vascular dementia is that their spatial awareness is really poor. A lot of times people have gait-related problems. They have trouble walking. Maybe they kind of slump in a weird way. They will have memory problems but it’s just not going to be the first boom. Maybe it won’t be the first thing you notice.

Another common type of dementia, and I don’t really want to put them in a particular order because depending on age there are some differences with what’s more common. So another common type of dementia is dementia with Lewy bodies or LBD. Dementia with Lewy bodies is characterized by a few things. One is hallucinations. So, people with Dementia with Lewy bodies are more likely to see or hear things that aren’t there. Most likely children are animals, and they’re also likely to have what’s called fluctuating impairment. So, on Tuesday they’re fine. Wednesday they’re fine. Thursday you go to see them and they are very confused, very agitated, and very different from how they were the day before. And then on Friday or Saturday, they’re kind of back to their normal baseline. The other thing that comes with dementia with Lewy bodies is often REM sleep disorder. So that’s notable as well. Usually when people sleep, their body kind of paralyzed. When you go into REM sleep, you know, rapid eye movement, your eyes move, right? And what happens with people with dementia, with Lewy bodies is their bodies don’t always paralyze themselves. So sometimes they will hit themselves or move during that period of sleep.

The fourth most common type of dementia, and again, I don’t really like putting these in order, is FTD or Frontotemporal Low Bar Dementia. Now, there are three variants of FTD that go like this. There’s a behavioral variant, frontotemporal dementia, there’s a speech variant, and then there’s a movement variant. But honestly, the disease kind of blends and it’s hard to separate what variant somebody has. People with this disease are more likely to be younger. This sometimes affects people who are 40 to 60, although I’ve absolutely seen it in people in their seventies and eighties.

People tend to have a lot of trouble regulating their moods, regulating their planning, and regulating their filters. So they kind of just say or do whatever comes to their heads. There’s a lot of sexual disinhibition. A lot of times there are a lot of speech-related issues. These people tend to have more issues with aphasia, so they might have trouble communicating even if they can understand, they might not be able to speak. So, again, a movement-related issue as well.

So those are the four most common types of dementia. As I mentioned, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, although you can have more than one type of dementia at a time. It drives me absolutely nuts when people say, oh, so and so has Alzheimer’s and dementia. Yeah, that’s like saying somebody has, cancer and lung cancer. What does that mean? Okay. Dementia’s just cognitive loss over time. And that’s it. Thanks for sticking around and as always, you know, subscribe to my channel.

Visit my Youtube channel for more tips on Dementia Care.

Liked it? Take a second to support Rachael Wonderlin on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Rachael Wonderlin is an internationally-recognized dementia care expert and consultant. She has a Master’s in Gerontology and is the author of three published books with Johns Hopkins University Press. Rachael owns Dementia By Day, a dementia care consulting and education company.

16 things poster
Get the FREE “16 Things” poster!

You're not alone!

Get personal support from Rachael and connect with other Caregivers when you join our community.

16 Things I Would Want If I Got Dementia

Get the FREE “16 Things” poster for your personal use—or better yet—your dementia care community’s staff break room!

I wrote this poem years ago, but to date, it’s the most popular piece I’ve ever created.

When you sign up, you’ll also get access to Rachael’s weekly newsletter so that you can get her top tips, links to new content as soon as it’s released, and special offers directly in your inbox! We’ll never sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

16 things poster
Shopping Cart

Have questions?

Book a Dementia Detective
call and talk to a DBD expert!