10 Most Common Types of Dementia

Learn about the most common types of dementia, including Alzheimer's, vascular dementia, and mixed dementia, as well as their causes and symptoms. We also discuss less common forms of dementia, such as Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease and Huntington's disease.

10 Most Common Types of Dementia
Types of Dementia

Here are the 10 most common types of dementia and the causes of these conditions:

Alzheimer’s Disease is the most type of dementia. It is a progressive condition that affects the thinking abilities of the mind. The cause of Alzheimer’s is not known. Researchers know that there is a buildup of plague and tangles that cause brain cell damage. This brain cell death disrupts the ability of the cells to communicate. The result is the loss of social skills and intellectual abilities.

Vascular Dementia is the second most common form of dementia. It is caused by a decrease blood flow to the brain. This decrease in blood to the brain deprives the brain cells nutrition. It also decreases the oxygen needed to function at optimal levels. Brain cell death occurs resulting in dementia symptoms.

There are many medical conditions that may cause vascular dementia :

  • diabetes
  • high blood pressure
  • a narrowing of the blood vessels in the brain.

Dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB) is also referred to as Lewy Body Dementia. This is the most commonly misdiagnosed form of dementia. It is the second most common form of progressive dementia.

This dementia is thought to be related to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. This type of dementia can be identified by the buildup of abnormal protein deposits. These are known as Lewy bodies in the brain and nerve cells in the brain stem. These deposits interfere with the communications between nerve cells. This impairs normal physical functioning, impaired thinking and behaviors.

Mixed Dementia is a form of dementia that is caused by more than one medical condition. The most common form of mixed dementia is Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia. A patient has both types of dementia at the same time. Researchers believe that mixed dementia occurs more often, as the population ages.

Parkinson’s Disease Dementia (PDD) is a progressive and chronic neurological disorder. This condition affects cognitive functioning in the later stages of this condition. Not everyone that has Parkinson’s disease will develop dementia. Dementia that develops in Parkinson’s disease is of the Lewy Body type of dementia.  The symptoms of Parkinson’s include tremors, muscle stiffness and problems with speech. Reasoning and memory may be affected.

“She almost thought she'd said the words aloud, but she hadn't. They remained trapped in her head, but not because they were barricaded by plaques and tangles. She just couldn't say them aloud”
― Lisa Genova, Still Alice

Frontotemporal Dementia is also known as Pick’s disease. It is a rare form of dementia that causes death of brain cells in the frontal and temporal lobes. Frontotemporal lobe dementia significantly changes an individual’s personality. There is a change in social skills and behaviors. Individuals with frontotemporal lobe dementia usually experience changes in personality. Later memory and speech problems occur.

Creutzfeldt-Jacob Dementia (CJD) is also known as mad cow disease. This is a rare form of dementia that occurs in about one in million people. This rapidly progressive disease is caused by a virus. This virus that interferes with the brains normal functions. The symptoms of this disorder include:

  • muscle stiffness
  • speech impairment
  • and lack of coordination.

Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (NPH) is a dementia that results from a buildup of fluid in the brain. This buildup adds pressure on the brain. The pressure interferes with the normal functioning of the brain. Individuals with NPH experience balance problems, speech difficulties and problems with memory.

“Those with dementia are still people, and they still have stories, and they still have character, and they’re all individuals, and they’re all unique. And they just need to be interacted with on a human level”. -Carey Mulligan

Huntington’ Disease is an inherited neurological dementia . It is a progressive disease that affects:

  • a person’s movement
  • thinking processes
  • and behaviors.

The symptoms include impaired judgment, uncontrollable jerking and memory problems.

Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is a dementia is caused by a deficiency in thiamine (Vitamin B1). This most often occurs in alcoholics. This can occur as a result of malnutrition, and a variety of long term medical conditions.  The symptoms caused by Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome includes confusion and impaired memory.

Diagnosing the type of dementia requires:

  • a full review of family history
  • past medical history
  • medication history.

A comprehensive battery of tests including:

  • a complete physical
  • Urinalysis
  • blood tests
  • May include MRI
  • Intake of family history
  • and cognitive testing will be necessary in order to diagnose the type of dementia.
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