Do You Know the 4 Most Common Types of Dementia?

Types of Dementia

Have you ever forgotten where you put your keys, why you walked into another room, or what you needed at the grocery store? There’s no question that having memory problems can be a big concern for many people, especially as they get older.

Occasionally misplacing something or momentary forgetfulness does not necessarily mean you’re going to get dementia. However, having regular problems with your memory is not normal at any stage in life—even for senior citizens.

Having regular problems with your memory is not normal at any stage in life—even for senior citizens. Click To Tweet

The 4 Most Common Types of Dementia

Although our brains change and tend to shrink a little with advancing age, having dementia is much more than losing your memory. The term itself refers to a category of neurodegenerative diseases that gradually diminish the brain’s ability to function. And while these conditions have some overlapping symptoms, the various dementing conditions generally attack different areas of the brain.

These are the 4 most frequently diagnosed types of dementia:

  1. Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is the most common type, affecting between 60% to 80% of dementia cases. It is caused by a build-up of beta-amyloid plaques between brain cells and abnormal tangles of tau protein inside the cells. This disease tends to target 3 particular areas in the brain:
  • Temporal lobes (memory, learning, and emotional regulation)
  • Parietal lobes (sensory processing and orientation to time and place)
  • Posterior cingulate (plays a role in cognition and mood)

In addition to memory problems, some of the earlier signs of AD include:

  • Getting lost in previously familiar places, such as not being able to find your way home
  • Becoming easily confused
  • Difficulty constructing things, like a fisherman no longer being able to attach a lure
  1. Vascular Dementia is the second most common type and is caused by blood vessel changes or from either a large stroke or multiple small ones. These cause damage by interfering with healthy blood flow to brain cells. Depending on which areas of the brain have blood vessel problems, the symptoms of vascular dementia can vary, but some of the more common ones are:
  • Memory issues
  • Being mentally disorganized and/or confused
  • Feeling agitated or restless
  1. Lewy Body Dementia (LBD), which is the 3rd most common dementing illness, is associated with Parkinson’s disease. It is caused by the build-up of proteins, called Lewy bodies, in brain cells. It often starts with damage to the occipital lobe, which is in the back of the brain and is involved with vision processing. LBD leads to distressing visual hallucinations. The beloved actor and comedian, Robin Williams, suffered from this condition.

Other common symptoms of LBD include:

  • Cognitive problems, like memory and attentional issues and confusion
  • Sleep difficulties from verbally and physically acting out dreams
  • Parkinsonian symptoms, such as tremors, rigid muscles, or shuffling
  1. Frontal-Temporal Lobe Dementia (FTLD) affects approximately 5% of dementia cases. As the name implies, it attacks the temporal lobes where memories are stored and the frontal lobes which are critical for all of our cognitive abilities, including reasoning and judgment, as well as empathy and impulse control.

In addition to problems with those functions, early in the progression of FTLD, a person may exhibit:

  • Personality changes, such as becoming uncharacteristically depressed or apathetic
  • Obsessive behaviors, like shoplifting or collecting certain things
  • Lack of inhibition, including swearing, saying inappropriate things, or indecent exposure

Regardless of which condition is diagnosed, finding out that a parent, sibling, friend, or spouse has dementia can be utterly devastating.

The Importance of Brain SPECT Imaging for Memory Problems

All too often, the early signs of dementia might be overlooked—even normalized—so there may not be a red flag until it’s too late to do much about it. However, like other diseases, the earlier a person is diagnosed with memory problems and follows a comprehensive treatment plan, the better the chances are for a more favorable outcome.

Did you know that dementia processes start developing in the brain decades before the onset of observable symptoms?

This is one of the important reasons the doctors at Amen Clinics use brain SPECT imaging as part of a patient’s full evaluation. SPECT, which stands for single-photon emission computed tomography, is a functional scan that assesses blood flow patterns. It identifies areas of the brain that have:

  • Healthy blood flow
  • Low blood flow or too little activity
  • High blood flow or too much activity

The various dementing diseases are generally associated with areas of low blood flow. SPECT scans can show the pattern of each type of dementia, which is necessary for providing a correct diagnosis, especially because there are overlapping symptoms, such as memory problems. SPECT can also confirm a suspected diagnosis or identify if a person’s cognitive changes are not dementia at all but are caused by a potentially reversible condition such as an infection, toxic exposure, head trauma, or depression.

Furthermore, SPECT can identify the pattern of dementia many years before the onset of symptoms, which is another and very important reason that early detection and treatment are so critical.

While it may be scary to hear about the possibility that you—or someone you love—could be vulnerable to developing dementia, knowledge is power. You can use that information to your advantage by making healthy lifestyle changes that could potentially alter the course of a devastating disease.

The Memory Rescue Program at Amen Clinics was designed to give you a better brain. It provides guidance and the steps needed to get your brain health back under control so you can live a long and fulfilling life for the years to come.

If you are concerned about memory problems—or have a loved one who is—it’s vital to get assessed and treated as soon as possible.

At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, remote clinical evaluations, and video therapy for adults, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.

21 Comments »

  1. I am from South Africa

    Comment by Michael Bruni — July 21, 2021 @ 3:10 AM

  2. Thank you so very much for all the wonderful work you do to help people have healthy brains and have listened to many of your podcasts and read your book End Mental Illness. You are giving such a fabulous service to us all. I live in the Uk and would like to know if it is possible to have a SPET scan in the UK. Many thanks. Lynda

    Comment by Lynda Cant — July 21, 2021 @ 3:26 AM

  3. My grandma had Parkinson’s disease.
    My mom has altymers. I am afraid I will get these terrible diseases.

    Comment by Brenda — July 21, 2021 @ 3:48 AM

  4. Woukd a brain spect help me to figure out the cause for my migraines????

    Comment by lori poerio — July 21, 2021 @ 4:07 AM

  5. Thanks so much for the informative letter. I am South African and really applaud all the Work done by Dr Amen.
    My father suffered from vascular dementia and I’m terrified of going that way. I am 68 yrs old. Is there anything I can do? I follow an anti dementia diet but I’m useless with exercise. I’m financially not able to purchase any supplements.
    Would you kindly advise?
    Many Thanks.
    Kind Regards,
    Shirley Abrahams.

    Comment by Shirley Abrahams — July 21, 2021 @ 5:15 AM

  6. What is the cost?

    Comment by vicki — July 21, 2021 @ 6:47 AM

  7. Looking for help for my daughter who has been struggling with Bipolar for about 11 years. She is currently in a treatment facility and it’s going on three weeks now. I’m concerned about all the medications that she is on now.

    Comment by Anita Douglas — July 21, 2021 @ 7:33 AM

  8. What supplements can I give my mom. She’s 80 and has very mild forgetfulness.

    Comment by Nancy Nair — July 21, 2021 @ 7:42 AM

  9. By the way, I recommend you and you supplements to others .I have a two of your books. Also I gave my son one or your supplement combinations when he was depressed. Thank you ..he’s now going to his first year of college.

    Comment by Nancy Nair — July 21, 2021 @ 7:44 AM

  10. I have a problem bringing up words/nouns in conversation. Embarrassing and is exacerbated by panic.. My remote and short term memory is pretty good. Unfortunately, I only have Medicare and no disposable income.

    Comment by Patricia Lemaster — July 21, 2021 @ 9:36 AM

  11. Why is the hi dose of zinc recommended when the Mayo Clinic recommends a smaller dose for women?

    Comment by Lorraineann — July 21, 2021 @ 10:04 AM

  12. Hi Anita, thank you for reaching out. We would be happy to contact you directly with more information regarding scheduling your daughter an appointment at one of our 9 clinics. We look forward to speaking with you soon.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — July 21, 2021 @ 11:21 AM

  13. Hi Vicki, Amen Clinics offers consultations and different types of evaluations based on the needs of the patient. For information regarding pricing, insurance, and financing options, please contact our Care Coordinators: https://www.amenclinics.com/schedule-visit/.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — July 21, 2021 @ 11:22 AM

  14. I am concerned about my son who has been having sleep problems for the last years. What do you recommend and how much is the proper treatment for him? He is receiving renal therapy three days a week. That could be the side effect but this is going too far. The insomnia is affecting his daily routine and his blood pressure. How can you help? Thank you.

    Comment by Carmen Hanna — July 21, 2021 @ 1:41 PM

  15. Does dementia only happen to older people?

    Comment by Karen — July 21, 2021 @ 2:43 PM

  16. Can Vascular Dementia be caused by decades of alcohol abuse?

    Comment by Ms Smith — July 21, 2021 @ 5:30 PM

  17. My partner have been diagnosed with Early onset AD. He tested positive for amyloid and FPG PETscan showed loss of volume in temporal and frontal lobes. He is currently on Donepezil. He is only 55. I would like to know where we can get help to optimise what is left of “normal” brain tissue.
    We live in Australia.

    Comment by Brenda — July 22, 2021 @ 2:45 AM

  18. Hello Brenda, thank you for reaching out. Our team would be happy to contact you directly to see if we can help you get into one of our 9 clinics and come up with a treatment plan to prevent these diseases. We look forward to speaking with you soon.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — July 22, 2021 @ 11:48 AM

  19. Hello Lori, thank you for reaching out. Our team of Care Coordinators would be more than willing to help answer any questions you may have. Please reach out to them at: https://www.amenclinics.com/schedule-visit/.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — July 22, 2021 @ 11:52 AM

  20. Hello Carmen, thank you for reaching out. We treat many patients who suffer from sleep disorders, including insomnia. We would be happy to contact you directly to see how we can get your son into one of our 9 clinics to help him. We look forward to speaking with you soon.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — July 22, 2021 @ 11:55 AM

  21. Hello Karen, symptoms of dementia and general memory loss can effect anyone. For more information on dementia you can find it here: https://www.amenclinics.com/conditions/memory-problems-and-dementia/
    You may also find some of our other blogs on this topic interesting and insightful: https://www.amenclinics.com/?s=dementia

    Comment by Amen Clinics — July 22, 2021 @ 12:01 PM

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