10 Types of Dementia

Dementia is a form of cognitive disability. It refers to the loss of thinking and memory abilities that are significant enough to impact one’s everyday life. It is not a normal process of aging but the results of several brain diseases.

Dementia is not a disease but a syndrome. Symptoms, treatments and care are different for different types of dementia.

Alzheimer’s Disease

This is a common type of dementia. The symptoms are mild at the beginning but get worse over time. People with Alzheimer will have difficulties in planning, carrying familiar tasks and memory loss.

Vascular Dementia

Stroke can cause vascular dementia. It is common for a vascular dementia patient to suffer from Alzheimer’s disease at the same time.

Dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB)

DLB is caused by microscopic deposits of a protein in patient’s cortex. Besides memory loss, patient experiences difficulties in paying attention, visual hallucinations, unusual sleepiness and movement.

Parkinson’s Disease Dementia

About 50% to 80% Parkinson’s disease patients get this type of dementia. Generally, dementia symptoms develop 10 years after a person get Parkinson’s. Patients have the same symptoms as Dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB).

Mixed Dementia

This refers to a combination of 2 types of dementia.

Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD)

Frontal lobe which controls our reasoning, emotions, judgment, and voluntary movement. Cell damage in this area of our brain will lead to FTD.

Huntington’s Disease

It is a progressive brain disorder caused by inherited genetic defect that results in death of brain cells. Symptoms usually appear in a person’s 30s or 40s.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD)

CJD is a rare and fatal degenerative brain disorder. Prion, a type of protein is causing normally folded protein in the brain to misfold. It happens suddenly and get worsen quickly. Generally, 70% of people die within a year of diagnosis.

Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (NPH)

This form of neurological disorder also known as Hakim’s syndrome and symptomatic hydrocephalus. The blocking of the normal flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) through the brain and spinal cords is causing the build-up of CSF in the brain and leads to NPH.

Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome (WKS)

Chronic heavy drinking and severe deficiency of vitamin B-1, or Thiamine in the body can lead to WKS. Usually it does not affect one’s problem-solving and thinking skills.

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10 Common Symptoms of Persons with Dementia

What are the symptoms of persons with dementia? We can help our loved one with early intervention if we know what is the telltale signs of dementia.

1. Problems with recent memory

They often forget recently learnt information. They may forget important dates or events, and ask for the same information repeatedly. The memory loss can affect their daily routine.

2. Problems with visual perception

They may have difficulties identifying objects in a familiar environment, and be unable to judge distances and depths correctly. Activities like reading and driving may become challenging.

3. Changes in mood, behaviour and personality

They may have rapid mood swings, withdraw from group activities, become passive and sleep more than usual. They can become a little insensitive towards others.

4. Withdrawal from hobbies and activities

They may lose interest in their usual hobbies, lack motivation at work and avoid social activities.

5. Misplacing things

They may lose things and be unable to retrace their steps to find them again. Sometimes, they may accuse others of stealing. This may occur ore frequently over time.

6. Confused with places and time

They may be confused with day and night, and read the time wrongly. They may not be sure of their location and feel frustrated in unfamiliar and noisy environments, causing them to lose their way.

7. Difficulties in planning and thinking

They may have trouble handling money, paying bills and following instructions, resulting in difficulty in financial transactions. They may also have trouble concentrating and take much longer to do things.

8. Difficulties in communication

They may struggle to express themselves, and experience problems finding the right word or naming objects. They may also have problems understanding what others are saying to them and may stop conversations with no idea on how to continue. They may also repeat themselves.

9. Difficulties completing familiar tasks

They may face difficulties completing familiar tasks that they used to do well, including cooking and driving etc.

10. Poor judgement and impaired social behaviour

They may not know what is appropriate or safe. For instance, they may use crude or coarse language or make insensitive remarks.

Source: Alzheimer’s Disease Association ADA (helpline: 6377 0700)

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Enabling EDIE by Alzheimer’s Disease Association ADA

Thanks to Alzheimer’s Disease Association (ADA) for conducting this programme of learning – Enabling EDIE. We were grateful to participate in this programme which is only available in Australia, Canada and Singapore.

In the class, we experienced how a dementia patient perceived the world with visual reality. It enabled us to feel the challenges they are facing and thus creating a supportive environment to engage, enable and empower them.

This programme simulated Edie, a dementia patient, waking up in the middle of the night and finding his way to the bathroom.

We were experiencing how Edie felt before and after a supportive change in the house (environment) he was living in. And how his wife’s quality of sleep was subsequently improved.

After completing this program, we understand that living with a dementia patient is not merely about looking after them. It also covers creating a user-friendly environment to re-enable and empower them to live independently. A small renovation to the home such as putting up appropriate signboards, using a different door colour for the bathroom and installing simple technological aids can positively change the way persons with special needs live. Helping them re-gaining sense of purpose and keeping them engaging in daily activity can certainly benefits them emotionally and physically.

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