Can you have dementia and not have Alzheimer’s? The answer is “Yes.” Although Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common form, there are other types of dementia, too. Lewy Body Dementia, Vascular Cognitive Impairment (VCI), Frontotemporal Dementia and Parkinson’s Disease Dementia are all types of irreversible dementias.
Dementia is used to describe a group of symptoms that includes memory loss, impaired thinking, reasoning and judgement, and language problems. Although these are the symptoms that all types of dementias have in common, some are more prominent depending on the specific disease. It’s important to know the cause of the dementia as each type varies in patterns of progression, duration of the disease and significant symptoms. Then, families can plan and make better decisions for the future.
Hallmarks of the different dementias –
- Alzheimer’s (AD)– short term memory deficits due to problems encoding memories/information
- Lewy Body – fluctuating cognition & hallucinations
- Vascular Dementia (VCI) – cognitive impairment & memory problems due to retrieval deficit
- Frontotemporal (FTD) – behavior & language
- Parkinson’s – movement disorder
Alzheimer’s Association’s support groups typically address all types of dementias. At these meetings families will discover a wealth of community resources, information, referrals, support and caregiving tips. But, sometimes families find it can be especially helpful to attend a specialized support group since each disease has its own unique set of concerns and challenges.
By Pam Kovacs Johnson