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Types of Dementia A Dementia Overview

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There are many types of dementia. As part of our dementia overview, I will break down those types into separate categories for you. Symptoms of dementia in seniors can present itself in a variety of different ways. The reason for this is that different parts of the brain are affected. As a caregiver, it is important to understand which category the person you are caring for is in. Different parts of the brain have different functions. Dementia signs will exhibit differently depending on the part of the brain that is affected. There may be forgetfulness, or personality changes or problems with movement. Knowing what part of the brain is involved and how it is being affected will give you a better understanding of what to expect as a caregiver. There are some types of dementia that are very slow in their progression through the dementia stages and others that are very fast and cause a rapid decline. Still other types of dementia have an intermittent pattern of decline followed by a stable period followed by another period of decline. As part of our dementia overview, I will make you aware of the five most common categories and the dementia signs that may be exhibited within that category. These categories are an attempt by science to group the different dementias that have similar features in common such as: what parts of the brain are affected by a condition or if it is one of the more progressive types of dementia.

It is important to understand that some dementias may be in more than one category

  • Cortical dementia  This type of dementia causes brain damage to the outer layer of the brain, known as the brains cortex. Cortical dementia exhibits with memory problems, difficulty with language skills, loss of planning and organizational skills, and decrease in social behaviors.
  • Subcortical dementia– This is the area of the brain below the cortex. Subcortical dementia tends to develop changes in emotions and physical movements as well as memory problems.
  • Progressive dementia– Is an ongoing process that gradually interferes with all cognitive abilities. Alzheimer’s disease in both a primary and progressive form of dementia. Lewy Body dementia is the most common of the progressive dementias.
  • Primary dementia: This is a dementia that does not result from any other disease process or injury. An example of a primary dementia is Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Secondary dementia: This type of dementia occurs as a result of a physical disease or injury. Vascular dementia, the second most common form of dementia is in this category.

The care Giver Should… As a caregiver, do not hesitate to ask, which category or classification of dementia that is affecting the individual for whom you are providing care. Every bit of knowledge will help you to develop a specific plan of care with planned activities and behavioral approaches that will assure successfully providing or advocating for care. Here is a touching song written and sung by Frank Martin Gilligan about caring someone  with dementia –  


What is Dementia?: Understanding Dementia is the First Step to Confident Dementia Care