What Are the Most Common Types of Dementia?

An older adult woman with glasses on sitting on a couch and looking out the window with a serious expression

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Dementia is a group of neurodegenerative disorders that affect memory, thinking, and almost all aspects of a person’s cognitive abilities. It often leads to the need for professional care in a community that truly understands this complex disorder. But dementia isn’t just a single disease—instead, it’s a group of different conditions with similar symptoms. So, if there are so many different types of dementia, what are the most common ones?

The 4 most common types of dementia are:

  1. Alzheimer’s disease
  2. Vascular dementia
  3. Lewy body dementia
  4. Mixed dementia

1. Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. It accounts for roughly 60-70% of all documented cases of dementia, and it’s caused by brain cells degenerating and dying. Typically, this is due to a buildup of plaques and tangles in the brain that begin to damage surrounding cells.

While the exact causes of Alzheimer’s aren’t fully known, it’s believed that age and genetics are major risk factors for the condition. Alzheimer’s usually starts with minor symptoms, but as it progresses, they become more and more severe.

A person living with dementia will often experience:

  • Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks
  • Confusion with time or place
  • New problems with words in speaking or writing
  • Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
  • Decreased or poor judgment
  • Withdrawal from work or social activities

2. Vascular Dementia

Vascular dementia is the second most common type of dementia. It develops when there’s a problem with the blood flow going to the brain. When this blood flow has an issue, it leads to the brain being slowly deprived of the oxygen and nutrients it needs to stay healthy.

Vascular dementia develops when something damages the blood vessels or arteries in the brain. Whether this is caused by a stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, or any other condition, this condition eventually leads to damaged brain cells. Vascular dementia causes many of the same symptoms as Alzheimer’s disease but can also cause movement difficulties and muscle weakness throughout the body.

However, there are a few things you can do to lower your chance of developing vascular dementia, including:

  • Avoiding tobacco usage
  • Maintaining and monitoring your blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Regularly exercise to keep yourself in shape
  • Controlling and monitoring conditions like diabetes
  • Following a healthy diet

While this can’t guarantee you’ll never develop any form of dementia, it does help you stay healthier and may lower your risk. Plus, it’s never a bad idea to take care of yourself!

3. Lewy Body Dementia

Another of the most common types of dementia is called Lewy body dementia. This is caused by a buildup of abnormal protein deposits in the brain, Lewy bodies, named after the original neurologist who discovered them in 1912.

There are two subtypes of Lewy body dementia:

  • Dementia with Lewy bodies, where symptoms are similar to that of Alzheimer’s. However, the buildup of the protein deposits can cause visual and auditory hallucinations alongside attention problems.
  • Parkinson’s disease, where a person develops symptoms like tremors and difficulty with movement. This is caused by the death of nerve cells in the brain.

Parkinson’s disease itself is not a type of dementia. However, most people with Parkinson’s have these Lewy bodies in their brains. These protein clusters can cause some, if not all, of the motor problems associated with Parkinson’s disease. There’s currently no cure for Parkinson’s disease, but the condition can be managed to an extent with a combination of physical therapy, medical aid, and a support team.

4. Mixed Dementia

When a person has “mixed dementia,” it’s because they show symptoms of at least two different types of dementia. Typically, this is a mix of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia, but it isn’t restricted to these two.

Mixed dementia can pose unique challenges when trying to treat the condition. It causes multiple complicated changes in the brain that can overlap. An adult with mixed dementia could have the blood vessel damage associated with vascular dementia alongside the plaque buildups that cause Alzheimer’s.

Because this refers to any mix of other types of dementia, the symptoms can vary wildly. Some may experience movement problems, while others may not. There’s no one treatment that can cover all those many symptoms, but with the help of a professional caregiver, the condition can be effectively managed.

How Is Dementia Managed?

There currently is no cure for dementia. But there is good news! There are communities where adults experiencing dementia can receive professional care in a home-like environment. These communities, called memory care, can be an effective way to get a loved one the care and support they need to improve their quality of life.

In memory care, community members get to live in a safe, supportive environment, surrounded by a team of caregivers with extensive training in helping manage conditions like dementia. Every person in these communities gets a unique care plan that’s built around their exact needs.

Your loved one gets to live in a place full of love, support, and care. Plus, they get access to plenty of different activities, programs, and events that can bring delight and entertainment to their days. From therapy meetings to board game nights, music sessions to art classes, fitness clubs to support groups, memory care is an incredible way for your loved one to live a life full of care.

An older adult man sitting at a table in a common area looking up and smiling while holding a book. In the background, another group of seniors sits around a table, one in a wheelchair.

How Memory Care Can Help

At Juniper Village at Aurora, our team understands the challenges that dementia can pose. That’s why we have a safe, supportive, and stimulating environment for older adults with dementia—we want each and every person here to feel loved and cared for. We’re dedicated to helping you and your family through this journey. So if you have a loved one with dementia or just want to learn more about these conditions, contact us today.

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