- Alzheimer's disease
- Vascular dementia
- Dementia with Lewy bodies
- Parkinson's disease dementia
- Huntington's disease
- Korsakoff's syndrome (alcohol related dementia)
- Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease
- Fronto Temporal Lobar Degeneration (FTLD)
- AIDS Dementia Complex (ADC)
Alzheimer's diseaseAlzheimer’s disease is responsible for about 70% of all dementia cases. The vast majority of cases are in people over the age of 65 and are a result of sporadic Alzheimer's disease. However, a less common form, familial Alzheimer's disease, caused by genetic mutation, can affect people under the age of 65. Alzheimer’s disease is caused by the build-up of abnormal deposits of protein in the brain. Depending on the type of deposits, the build-ups either occur in the spaces between nerve cells or inside brain cells. Research into Alzheimer’s disease has really only taken off within the last couple of decades. However, the prevalence of Alzheimer’s means there are now a great deal of resources being put into understanding the disease. While there is a general understanding of what is happening within the brain of Alzheimer’s sufferers, researchers are still trying to determine exactly how and why the build-ups of beta-amyloid and tau occur. At present, there is no effective treatment that cures or reverses Alzheimer’s disease. There are, however, some drugs that show signs of being able to slow some of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, though the symptoms will inevitably get worse.
Vascular dementiaVascular dementia is the second most common form of dementia. It is sometimes referred to as vascular cognitive impairment (VCI). Vascular dementia occurs when the brain’s blood vessels are damaged or blocked following a stroke or a series of strokes. The exact type of vascular dementia and the degree of resulting cognitive problems depend on the type, location and extent of the damage incurred. While Alzheimer’s disease tends to affect memory, vascular dementia tends to affect other cognitive skills and its symptoms include:
- Loss of vision
- Difficulty in using or understanding speech.
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Dementia with Lewy bodiesDementia with Lewy bodies (or Lewy body disease) is a form of dementia in which a build-up of microscopic deposits known as Lewy bodies impair and destroy nerve cells in the brain. Progress of the condition is usually faster than Alzheimer's disease. The main symptoms are:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Extreme confusion
- Difficulty judging distances
- Extreme changes in reasoning
- Tremors and movement associated with Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson's disease dementiaParkinson's disease is a brain disorder that affects movement, balance, and coordination. Some people with Parkinson’s disease also develop problems with their thinking and reasoning, which indicates dementia associated with Parkinson’s disease. The cause of this dementia is deposits of Lewy bodies, making this form of dementia very similar to dementia with Lewy bodies (see above).
Huntington's diseaseHuntington’s disease is a genetic disease passed from parent to child. It is usually diagnosed between the ages of 35-55. It is caused by a defective gene on chromosome 4 that causes an excessive build-up of the Huntingtin protein. The result is damage to nerve cells in the brain. The main symptoms are:
- Uncontrolled movement of the body
- Decline in reasoning
- Loss of ability to plan and organize
- Difficulty concentrating.
Korsakoff's syndrome (alcohol-related dementia)Alcohol-related dementia is obviously caused by alcohol abuse. There are two main types, Korsakoff's syndrome and Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. Excessive alcohol use can result in depletion of thiamine (vitamin B1) in the brain. The brain requires thiamine to produce energy. While excessive alcohol is believed to be a leading cause of this form of dementia, it can also be caused by poor nutrition. The main symptoms are:
- Difficulty learning new things
- Personality change
- Memory loss.