Dementia is the name for a collection of symptoms that include memory loss and difficulties with language, problem-solving and other cognitive abilities. Dementia isn’t a specific condition, and can be caused by a number of different factors. It’s a progressive disease without a cure, but there are certain things that can be done to slow decline. Such factors as diet, giving up smoking, exercise and social interaction can be used in combination with medication to help slow the progression of dementia – and ultimately increase quality of life in people living with dementia.
The forms of dementia
Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia, which happens when proteins build up in the brain and form structures called plaques, which cause brain cells to die.
Vascular dementia is the second most common form of dementia, and it’s caused by brain cell damage caused by a reduction in blood supply – often as a result of blood clots (also known as infarcts).
Dementia with Lewy bodies
Dementia with Lewy bodies, or DLB, is a type of dementia that shares characteristics of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and is caused by the build-up of proteins in the brain’s nerve cells.
Frontotemporal dementia is a form of dementia that damages the frontal and temporal lobes, the parts of the brain associated with emotions, behaviour regulation, speech and the recognition of objects and faces.
Around 10% of dementia cases are categorised as ‘mixed’, this means there are a combination of different dementia forms in the same patient. The most common form of mixed dementia is where both Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia are in effect simultaneously.