Understanding different types of dementia

While Alzheimer's may be the most common form of dementia, there are many other types to be aware of.

Dementia is not a disease in itself, rather it's a word used to describe a range of different disorders that all produce similar symptoms when brain cells stop working correctly, according to Alzheimer's Research UK. Alzheimer's may be the most common form of dementia, however there are many different types. No single person will experience the same signs of the disease. Each person living with dementia experiences the disease differently.

Here are some of the most common types of dementia.


Alzheimer's disease

Alzheimer's disease affects more than 520,000 people in the UK, according to the Alzheimer's Society. Throughout the duration of the disease, proteins build up in the brain and form plaques. This leads to the loss of connection between nerve cells. The connection damage leads to the death of cells, ultimately resulting in the loss of brain tissue. The disease also causes a shortage of chemicals in the brain that leads to less communication. Alzheimer's is a progressive disease, which means it becomes more severe over time. Memory loss and forgetfulness are the most common symptoms of Alzheimer's.


Vascular dementia

According to Dementia UK, vascular dementia is the second most common type of dementia. Sometimes known as multi-infarct dementia, or MID, vascular dementia is the result of small strokes occurring in the brain, causing cell damage. While the progression of Alzheimer's disease is gradual, vascular dementia follows a more "stepwise deterioration." Language and communication tend to be affected more than memory in this type of dementia. However, it is possible to have a combination case of vascular dementia and Alzheimer's, which is more commonly known as mixed dementia.


Dementia with Lewy Bodies

This type of the disease is the third most common case of dementia and affects 15 per cent of the people living with dementia in the UK, according to Alzheimer's Research UK. Also known as Lewy bodies disease, DLB occurs when a small round clump of protein builds up inside the nerve cells of the brain. The protein clump damages the way the cells communicate. The nerve cells affected control thinking, memory and movement. Most symptoms are often typical of Alzheimer's, which can make it difficult to tell a difference between the two.


Frontotemporal dementia

FTD, sometimes known as Pick's disease, is rare form of dementia. This disease is caused by damage to cells found in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, which regulate emotions, personality, reasoning and behaviour. For people living with FTD, common conditions include:

  • Behavioural variances
  • Dementia associated with motor neurone disease
  • Semantic dementia - confusion in the meaning of language
  • Progressive non-fluent aphasia - language disorder which causes trouble in speaking and writing


At Sunrise Senior Living, our care homes feature neighbourhoods designed specifically for residents living with dementia. For more information or to find a location near you, please select Contact us at the top of this page.

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