When we talk about dementia, we often assume that it’s synonymous with Alzheimer’s disease. While the terms are often used this way, there are actually many different kinds of dementia. While most types manifest with some degree of memory loss and decreased cognitive function, they differ by specific symptoms, causes and available treatments.
“It’s true that Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, and therefore the most well known,” says Lonette Bentley, Executive Director at Clarity Pointe™ Pensacola, a memory care assisted living community in Pensacola, Florida. “Yet many senior adults suffer from lesser known forms of memory loss that can go undiagnosed and untreated. The more we know about the various forms of dementia, the better we can recognize the disease when it appears and provide the proper care for the individual and their family.”
Know the Difference
According to the Alzheimer’s Association®, dementia is the general term for the loss of memory and mental abilities caused by physical changes in the brain severe enough to interfere with daily life. This definition covers conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease, as well as other types of cognitive impairment. Let’s take a look at some of the most prevalent forms, their causes and their symptoms.
Alzheimer’s disease accounts for approximately 60–80 percent of dementia cases. While exact causes are still unknown, research has discovered that specific plaques and tangles of protein are present in the brain, which is believed to cause brain cell damage and death. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, meaning that it worsens over time, and scientists believe that the progression of the disease begins long before symptoms appear.
- General memory loss
- Difficulty remembering recent information, names and events
- Mood swings, apathy and depression
- Impaired communication
- Poor judgment
- Confusion and disorientation
- Behavior changes
- Difficulty speaking, swallowing and walking
Formerly named for its development after patients incurred a stroke, vascular dementia occurs from damaged or blocked blood vessels that lead to bleeding in the brain. This form accounts for just ten percent of cases.
- Impaired judgment
- Inability to plan, make decisions or organize
- The location and seriousness of the brain injury determines how thinking and physical functioning are affected
- Other symptoms are similar to those of Alzheimer’s disease
Dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB)
DLB also accounts for ten percent of cases. Lewy Bodies are abnormal clumps of protein that develop in the brain. When they form on the cortex, DLB results.
- Memory and cognitive symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s disease
- Early symptoms of sleep disturbances
- Well-formed visual hallucinations
- Slowness, gait imbalance and movements similar to Parkinson’s disease
Sometimes, a patient shows abnormalities linked to more than one of these different forms. Mixed dementia usually presents itself as Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia symptoms, although DLB is possible. Research suggests that this condition may be more common than we used to believe.
Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD)
This form covers a range of conditions caused by damage to the frontal lobe or temporal parts of the brain. These areas are responsible for behavior, emotional responses and language skills. FTD often presents itself at an earlier age than patients with other dementias (under age 65).
- Changes in personality and behavior
- Language difficulties
Mild Cognitive Impairment
Mild Cognitive Impairment, or MCI, causes slight decline in memory and thinking skills. MCI is diagnosed when a patient’s cognitive decline is noticeable and measurable, but isn’t severe enough to be diagnosed as dementia. A person with MCI has a higher risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease later on.
Reach Out to Your Expert Resources
If you notice any of these symptoms in yourself or a loved one, see your doctor right away. An early diagnosis of dementia and other cognitive illnesses is essential to acquiring the best care. Even if a loved one has already been diagnosed, it’s important to understand their specific form of their disease. The more you know, the better you will be able to help them get the proper treatment and care support.
“If you’re ever unsure about a loved one’s cognitive health, don’t hesitate to speak with an expert,” advises Bentley. “Make an appointment with their doctor, and write down all the symptoms you’ve noticed and the concerns you have, so you don’t forget anything on the day of the appointment. In the meantime, you can reach out to your local memory care community for information and support. At Clarity Pointe Pensacola, our care team is specially trained in dementia care, and we’re able to offer advice on how to care for your loved one’s symptoms. We also have connections to valuable resources for information and support.”
If you would like to know more about Clarity Pointe Pensacola and their memory care services, contact us today.
Clarity Pointe … Our Difference is Clear
Clarity Pointe’s Specialized Memory Care “Living” Neighborhoods are truly changing lives for those with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias – and for those who love them. At Clarity Pointe, our mission is to ensure our residents lead connected and rewarding lives.
Unlike other providers that offer a secure memory care wing in a skilled nursing or assisted living center, Clarity Pointe Pensacola offers three freestanding, purpose-built Memory Care communities that are solely and entirely dedicated to Memory Care Assisted Living. Our communities blend luxurious surroundings with specialized care that is individualized to each resident and delivered by a compassionate, expert team of professionals.
We stay current on the latest trends and advancements in Alzheimer’s care and implement them into our residents’ care plans. Always moving forward, we combine the latest in evidence-based programming with luxurious, residential living and compassionate respectful care.
For each of our residents, we offer a life that is engaging, fulfilling, inspiring and meaningful.