Dementia 101: Understanding the Different Forms

When many people hear the words Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, they often believe that they are both the same thing. In fact, many people believe that all forms of memory loss are dementia. While this is true to an extent, a better way of putting it is that various forms of memory loss fall under the umbrella of dementia. “To put it in simpler terms, there are many forms of dementia, making it just a general term for memory loss,” says Dawn Joaquin, Community Relations Director at YourLife of Coconut Creek, a Memory Care community in Coconut Creek, Florida. “It’s much more complicated than that, actually. Whether seniors have Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease or another form, no symptoms or progressions are exactly alike, creating a need for different categories and forms. These forms all have different signs, ways to help and more. This can help ensure each person dealing with the disease understands exactly what could come next or how the disease will affect them at different stages.”

Different Forms of Memory Loss

To help break it down further, and to assist you in finding the right resources for your particular situation, we’ve broken down the top forms of memory loss as explained by the Alzheimer’s Association®.

  • Alzheimer’s Disease. As the most common form of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of memory loss. This form affects cognitive abilities and interferes with daily life, according to the Alzheimer’s Association®. Alzheimer’s worsens over time, and usually lasts over a number of years. On average, according to the Alzheimer’s Association®, those with the disease often live four to eight years after a diagnosis, but can also live as long as 20. Unfortunately, there is no cure, but there are options to try to slow the symptoms while improving the quality of life they face.
  • Lewy Body Dementia. Lewy Body Dementia is progressive and leads to decline in thinking, reasoning and independence. This is because of microscopic deposits that can damage cells in the brain over time. Known as the third most common cause of memory loss, Lewy body dementia causes confusion, Parkinson's symptoms, hallucinations and delusions. Some medications can help to manage symptoms, but most antipsychotic drugs should be used with caution because they could worsen symptoms.
  • Frontotemporal Dementia. Nerve cell damage caused by frontotemporal dementia can cause deterioration in behavior, personality, language and motor function. This is most often diagnosed by a doctor who is familiar with this disorder. Many times, this form of memory loss is inherited. In fact, the Alzheimer’s Association® states that it is inherited in about one-third of all cases. Just like other forms, this gets worse over time and the decline differs greatly from person to person.
  • Parkinson’s Disease Dementia. Many seniors with Parkinson’s disease can develop this form at least a year after diagnosis - 50 to 80 percent. Many times, the disease doesn’t spread until 10 years later. According to the Alzheimer’s Association®, brain changes caused by Parkinson’s begin to spread, impairing mental functions, memory and the ability to pay attention. This may also affect judgment skills and more. Both of these diseases worsen over time, and there is no way to slow or stop the damage. Instead, they focus solely on improving symptoms using medication.
  • Vascular Dementia. Inadequate blood flow can kill blood cells within the body, and many of those are located within the brain. When a senior suffers a stroke, these cells can become blocked, allowing damage to occur, leading to vascular dementia. Known as the second most common type of dementia, this can cause changes in thinking skills, leading to confusion, trouble speaking, vision loss and more. Seniors who have had a stroke are at a higher risk; however, those with high blood pressure or high cholesterol are also at risk. Seniors can help protect their brain and reduce their risk by not smoking, eating a healthy diet, exercising and maintaining a healthy weight.

To learn more about the different forms of memory loss, or to discover ways to help your loved one through this difficult journey, contact our team. We would be happy to provide you with expert advice, support and assistance. Call us today at 954-228-6252. Inspiring Memory Care Designed for You. Defined by You. YourLife™ of Coconut Creek was created to provide the most exceptional Memory Care and uplifting lifestyle for our residents. We focus all our energy, attention and resources to creating a community that caters to each resident’s personal needs, respects their choices and honors individuality, while providing unequaled peace of mind and support for families. Because Memory Care is our sole focus, we have the unique ability to design and personally tailor plans around our residents. We understand that each resident is an individual that has their own story, specific needs and retained abilities, so we develop personally inspired care plans that value and support each person’s independence. Our team of attentive, caring YourLife Personal Care Specialists are on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide assistance with everyday activities, gentle reminders and redirection. With YourStory, our signature programming, we create an individual experience centered around each resident. From cultural, educational and holistic health and wellness programming, outings and an array of other special events to personal care, assistance and therapies, we create days with meaning. At YourLife of Coconut Creek, our residents and families know that this is a community designed for you, with a lifestyle defined by you. Contact us to learn more!

Call us at 954-228-6252 for more information or to schedule a personal visit today.