The 10 Primary Sources of Dementia

Many different illnesses and conditions can cause your loved one to develop dementia.

Dallas residents and families affected by dementia know only all too well how it changes everything.

What most don’t know is that dementia itself is not a disease, but is a term used to describe the memory loss and loss of other mental abilities that are caused by physical changes in the brain from other diseases or medical issues. There are 10 primary medical issues and diseases that lead to the different types of dementia that a loved one may suffer from in the DFW-area and beyond. Each of them creates different changes in the brain and even have differing levels and symptoms of how the dementia may be seen in the person suffering from it.

Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60-80% of all dementia cases and is caused by deposits of plaques and twisted strands of proteins in the brain. Nerve cell damage is also present. Early symptoms include not being able to remember conversations that happened recently, not being able to remember names and events, and depression. Advanced Alzheimer’s disease can cause trouble communicating at all, disorientation, behavior changes, trouble walking, and issues with being able to swallow.

Vascular dementia

Vascular dementia is caused by the damage done to the brain from a stroke. Symptoms include not being able to plan or organize anything, impaired judgment, and difficulty making decisions.

Dementia with Lewy bodies

Dementia with Lewy bodies is caused by abnormal clumps of a specific protein in the cortex of the brain. The symptoms are similar to those seen with Alzheimer’s, but also can include hallucinations, sleep issues, and parkinsonian movement features.

Parkinson’s disease

Parkinson’s disease causes clumps of a specific protein to develop deep in the brain that is thought to degenerate the nerve cells that produce dopamine. Dementia symptoms are similar to those seen with dementia with Lewy bodies and Alzheimer’s. Dementia is usually a symptom that presents itself later as the disease progresses after the patient has already developed problems with movement.

Frontotemporal dementia

Frontotemporal dementia does not have a specific abnormality that can be attributed as to why the changes in the brain that lead to this type of dementia happen. It is a dementia that occurs earlier in a person’s lifetime (around age 60) and will bring death sooner than if the person had Alzheimer’s. Symptoms include behavior changes, personality changes, and problems with speech.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is a rare, but fatal brain disorder. It comes on quickly and will cause behavior changes, memory issues, and problems with coordination before the patient dies from the disease.

Normal pressure hydrocephalus

Normal pressure hydrocephalus is the buildup of fluid on the brain. It causes memory loss and problems with walking.

Huntington’s Disease

This progressive brain disorder is caused by a gene defect that causes abnormalities in a brain protein. Symptoms worsen over time and include mood changes, depression, irritability, and involuntary movements. As the disease progresses, a severe decline in thinking and reasoning skills are seen.

Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome

Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome develops when there is a severe thiamine deficiency in the brain that is usually triggered by alcohol abuse. Thiamine is essential to help brain cells produce energy from sugar and cannot function like they should if they cannot generate enough energy. Primary symptoms are isolated to severe memory issues.

Mixed dementia

Mixed dementia is when more than one of the above dementia causing diseases or medical issues occur at the same time. (source: alz.org)