How to Identify 5 Common Dementias

One of the main questions that I am asked at the hundreds of talks I give each year is, “What is the difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia?” With so many groups fighting against Alzheimer’s disease, it can seem like the word dementia is interchangeable. How would you respond to that inquiry? Is it important what type of dementia someone has for his or her care? It’s critical to firmly understand the five more common dementias, including Alzheimer’s, so that you have a stronger, and more supportive answer to these questions.

Five Dementias

Using five role-play scenarios of screening assessment tools and a family member, you can test your own skill at identifying characteristics and key indicators of the following five dementias. My course dives deeper into each of these and demonstrates case scenarios for each. Get started below with some more general attributes of each common form of dementia:

Alzheimer’s disease

Often simply characterized with memory loss, there is more to this disease that may get missed early on in the journey.

Vascular dementia

It’s key to look at all of the health factors in a person’s life as well as sudden drops or changes in function to help identify vascular dementia. In these cases damage is related to blood supply and treatment can plateau. There are good and bads for these patients.

Frontal Variant Frontotemporal dementia

While in the family of FTDs, the prefrontal frontal cortex causes specific changes in behavior that can be surprising and frustrating without a clear understanding of the changes.

Frontal-Temporal dementia

Someone with temporal deterioration may experience language challenges along with shifts in personality that occur with frontal lobe damage. As discussed in my course, it’s important to support these individuals to avoid agitation.

Lewy Body dementia

One of the most commonly misdiagnosed or missed dementias, there are several strong indicators of this particular dementia including movement issues, visual hallucinations, fine motor problems, episodes of rigidity, insomnia, delusions, or fluctuations in abilities.

With the number of types and causes of dementia continuing to climb to over 110, only digging into five may seem like a small start. However, as you work through my course, you will look more critically at each of these more common dementias and start to assemble a number of different screening tools to help you catch changes earlier and with more accuracy than before.