Dementia: An In-Depth Look into the Disease and Its 5 Most Common Types

Oftentimes, individuals use the term Alzheimer’s to refer to all dementia-related illnesses, when that is not correct. While Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, it is not an umbrella term for all dementias. There are several different types of dementia, all with their own set of symptoms. We believe it’s important for everyone to not only understand that different types of dementias exist, but also the unique characteristics of each type and the signs that indicate their onset.

While there are over 400 different types of dementias, there are five that are considered the most common. Worldwide, around 50 million people have dementia, and there are nearly 10 million new cases every year (World Health Organization). Here’s a list of the five most common types of dementia, along with their symptoms. If you recognize any of these symptoms in a loved one, this information can help you decide if you need to seek medical advice.

  1. Alzheimer’s Disease

Of the 50 million people that have dementia, 5.8 million of those individuals have the Alzheimer’s form of dementia. A few of the most common symptoms include memory loss, a change in disposition, difficulty completing what were once familiar tasks such as speaking or writing and confusing places and time. For more information about Alzheimer’s disease, click here.

  1. Vascular Dementia (a.k.a. Vascular Cognitive Impairment)

Estimated to account for close to 10% of dementia cases, vascular dementia is the second most common form of dementia. This type of dementia often sets in after a stroke or atherosclerosis when blood flow to the brain is interrupted. While symptoms are very similar to Alzheimer’s, there are some clear differences between the two. The cause of vascular dementia is known to be from an acute, specific event as mentioned previously, while the cause of Alzheimer’s is less clear. With vascular dementia, there is a noticeable step-like decline in cognitive ability, while the decline with Alzheimer’s disease is typically a slight, downward slope over an extended period of time.

  1. Pick’s Disease (a.k.a. Frontotemporal Dementia)

This form of dementia can run in families and impacts the portions of the brain that control language and behavior (the front and side portions). Telltale symptoms of Pick’s disease include incorrect use of words and increased self-consciousness. Pick’s disease makes one feel extremely self-conscious and unable to act in a relaxed and natural way.

  1. Parkinson’s Dementia

Parkinson’s dementia is not the same as Parkinson’s disease. It is common for individuals suffering from Parkinson’s disease to develop Parkinson’s dementia, but not all do. The symptoms of Parkinson’s dementia are similar to Alzheimer’s, with one noticeable difference. While Alzheimer’s hinders memory and language, Parkinson’s affects the speed of cognitive function, slowing down one’s movements. Symptoms gradually worsen over years, with cognitive symptoms developing later than the physical signs of this dementia.

  1. Huntington’s Disease

Like Pick’s disease, Huntington’s disease is another form of dementia possessing genetic links. Unlike other forms of dementia, Huntington’s comes in two forms – one form impacts juveniles and the other affects adults in their 30s and 40s. The most common symptoms of Huntington’s disease include jerking, attention deficit, difficulty swallowing, and the loss of impulse control.

If you have noticed any of these symptoms in yourself or a loved one, it may be time to seek advice from a medical professional. If you have been diagnosed with a form of dementia, MapHabit can help you regain independence, reduce stress and enhance your quality of life. Sign up for our newsletter today!

3 Methods to Improve Brain Health in Advanced Age

It’s no secret that our minds can gradually weaken the older we get – we find ourselves misplacing our keys more often than usual or walking into a room and forgetting what we wanted to do/get in there. This is all completely natural! We have all been there. However, in light of these “senior moments,” it’s important to keep our brains healthy.

Keep reading for 3 helpful MapHabit™ tips to keep your brain healthy!

 

Tip #1: Move/Exercise Often

Sit less. Move more. We’re sure this tip doesn’t come as any surprise. Of course, we’re not saying you need to join a gym and sign up for the most intensive class on the schedule. Alternatively, we recommend simple moderate exercise at least 4-5 times a week. If you feel comfortable mixing in a few spurts of high-intensity training – like cycling or weight lifting – then go for it! If you want to take things slower, walking for at least 15 minutes each day is a great way to start.

 

Tip #2: Crossword Puzzles/Reading

A highly effective way to keep the brain healthy is by keeping it engaged. Do you love sitting down with a crossword puzzle each morning? Keep it up! Or, grab your favorite James Patterson novel and set a weekly reading goal. According to a recent study at Yale University, those who read at least 3.5 hours each week have a higher chance of living longer. Other activities that are great for engaging the mind include word searches, journaling, sudoku puzzles, or drawing. You could even try sitting down with your grandchildren and helping them with their math homework.

 

Tip #3: Change Your Diet

“You are what you eat,” right? That saying is especially true when it comes to our memory and overall brain health. Of course, many fruits and vegetables enhance brain health, with blueberries being one of the top “brain foods.” Nuts, olive oil, and coffee also make the list. For those of you who love your morning cup of joe, you can now drink it knowing it’s truly good for you! On the flip side, foods to avoid include artificial sweeteners, processed cheeses, and saturated fats. For a more detailed list of which foods are considered “brain food,” click here.

 

We hope you have found these suggestions helpful! If you or a loved one are currently living with any form of impaired memory or dementia, MapHabit™ can help you live better.

 

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