Feb 02, 2017

How Many Types of Dementia are There? What You Need to Know

Dementia is a broad term used to describe the symptoms of a large group of illnesses that affect the brain and cause a progressive decline in a person’s functioning. It is not one specific disease.

If you are wondering how many types of dementia there are, then you may be surprised that there is more than just Alzheimer’s. Although it is the most common type of dementia in older adults, we also wanted to highlight the other 9 types of dementia throughout this article.

Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is the most commonly seen type of dementia in older adults, which is responsible for an estimated 60 to 80 percent of individuals who are diagnosed. Alzheimer’s is a neurological disorder where the death of brain cells causes memory loss and cognitive decline.


In 2011, revised guidelines were released advising that Alzheimer’s disease should be thought of as brain disease that progresses very slowing and begins before individuals show symptoms.
Common symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease include:

  • Problems with memory
  • Forgetting names or events
  • Difficulty communicating
  • Confusion
  • Problems walking, speaking, and swallowing

Vascular Dementia

Vascular dementia was formerly known as multi-infarct or post-stroke dementia. Vascular dementia is the second most commonly diagnosed form of dementia and account for 15 – 20% of all cases of dementia. Vascular dementia is caused by chronic reduced blood flow to the brain, usually as a result of a stroke or series of strokes. It can often coexist with Alzheimer’s disease.


The most typical symptoms of this type of dementia are:
Disclaimer: Please be aware the above article is merely information – not advice. If users need medical advice, they should consult a doctor or other healthcare professional.

  • Impaired judgment
  • Inability to make decisions
  • Confusion

It is estimated that about 50% of cases of vascular dementia results from high blood pressure, which is particularly dangerous as it can lead to a major stroke or a series of strokes and a build up of brain damage over time.

Dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB)

Abnormal clumps of the protein alpha-synuclein are known as Lewy bodies. If these clumps develop in the cortex, then it can result in dementia. Individuals with Parkinson’s disease also have Lewy bodies in their brains, but the structural pattern is different from Lewy bodies that are found in individuals with DLB.


Here are some common symptoms seen in those with DLB:

  • Memory loss similar to Alzheimer’s
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Hallucinations
  • Slowness

Mixed Dementia

With mixed dementia, the abnormalities in the brain are associated with more than one type of dementia occurring in the brain at the same time. Recent research has suggested that mixed dementia affects more individuals that previously thought.


When an individual has mixed dementia, he or she will have symptoms that point to more than one type of dementia.
Dementia with Lewy bodies, Alzheimer’s, and vascular dementia are the most common types of conditions seen with mixed dementia.

Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is usually similar to the progressive dementia that is seen with Alzheimer’s or DLB.


With Parkinson’s, it is common for individuals to have difficulty with movement. As the dementia progresses, symptoms are similar to DLB. Alpha-synuclein clumps start to form in the substantia nigra are of the brain. The abnormal clumps are thought to be the reason for degeneration of the nerve cells that make dopamine.

Frontotemporal Dementia

Frontotemporal dementia includes behavioral variant FTD, primary progressive aphasia, corticobasal degeneration, Pick’s disease, and progressive supranuclear palsy.


The nerve cells in the front and side of the brain are affected by Frontotemporal dementia, personality changes as well as behavior changes are sometimes seen. Individuals with Frontotemporal dementia may also have difficulty speaking.
Usually, individuals with FTD will start to show symptoms at an age younger than 60 and do not live as long as individuals with Alzheimer’s disease.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is the most common rare and fatal brain condition that affects individuals and other types of mammals. Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which is also known as mad cow disease, occurs in cattle but can be spread to humans.


Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is a fatal condition that rapidly impacts memory, coordination, and behavior. The brain is changed because the misfolded prion protein creates a domino effect that spreads throughout the brain.

Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus

Normal pressure hydrocephalus is caused by the accumulation of fluid in the brain. There are times when this can be fixed by using a shunt in the brain to eliminate excess fluid.


Symptoms that can be seen with this condition include:

  • Problems walking
  • Memory loss
  • Difficulty controlling urination

Huntington’s Disease

A single defective gene, which is found on chromosome 4, is what causes Huntington’s disease. The defective gene produces abnormalities in a brain protein that will cause the symptoms to become worse over time.


Dementia associated with Huntington’s disease can cause symptoms that include:

  • Involuntary movements
  • Impaired reasoning and thinking skills
  • Increased irritability
  • Depression
  • Mood changes

Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome

Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is a severe memory condition that is caused by chronic deficiency of Thiamine (vitamin B1). Thiamine contributes brain cells producing energy from sugar. If an individual’s thiamine levels drop too low, the brain will not be able to produce adequate amounts of energy, which will result in the brain not functioning properly. The most common cause for this condition is alcohol abuse.


Although memory problems can be severe with Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, thinking skills and social skills are not usually affected.
There are millions of individuals who have dementia. Although there is not a cure dementia, there are many ways individuals can slow the progression of the disease and prolong their quality of life.

Disclaimer: Please be aware the above article is merely information – not advice. If users need medical advice, they should consult a doctor or other healthcare professional.

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