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Types of Dementia

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If your doctor tells you that your loved one has dementia, it means he's got a brain condition that causes problems with thinking and memory. It's important to understand the different types so he can get the right kind of treatment.

Although most types of dementia get worse over time, there are drugs that might help with some of your loved one's behavior changes and other symptoms.

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Alzheimer's Disease

This is the most common type of dementia, and it affects about 5 million Americans.

If someone you know has Alzheimer's, you'll notice symptoms such as memory loss and trouble planning and doing familiar tasks.

The symptoms are mild at first but get worse over a number of years. Your friend or relative might:

  • Be confused about where he is or what day or year it is
  • Have problems speaking or writing
  • Lose things and be unable to backtrack to find them
  • Show poor judgment
  • Have mood and personality changes

Vascular Dementia

If a relative or friend of yours gets this type of dementia, it's usually because he's had a major stroke, or one or more "silent" strokes, which can happen without him realizing it.

The type of dementia symptoms depend on the part of the brain that's affected by the stroke.

While Alzheimer's usually begins with memory problems, vascular dementia more often begins with poor judgment or trouble in planning, organizing, and making decisions.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Memory problems that disrupt your loved one's daily life
  • Trouble speaking or understanding speech
  • Problems recognizing sights and sounds that used to be familiar
  • Being confused or agitated
  • Changes in personality and mood
  • Problems walking and having frequent falls

Dementia With Lewy Bodies (DLB)

Lewy bodies are microscopic deposits of a protein that form in some people's brains. They're named after the scientist who discovered them.

If someone you know gets dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), it's because these deposits have formed in the part of the brain called the cortex.

The symptoms of DLB include:

  • Problems thinking clearly, making decisions, or paying attention
  • Memory trouble
  • Seeing things that aren't there, known as visual hallucinations
  • Unusual sleepiness during the day
  • Periods of "blanking out" or staring
  • Problems with movement, including trembling, slowness, and trouble walking
  • Dreams where you act out physically, including, talking, walking, and kicking

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