Types of Dementias

Dementia is a general term for confusion or cognitive impairment.  Cognitive impairment is when a person has trouble thinking, remembering, learning new things, concentrating, or making decisions that affect their everyday life.  Dementia includes at least two of the following symptoms:

  • memory loss
  • language problems such as word finding difficulties
  • impaired visual perception and recognition
  • difficulty with skilled motor tasks
  • impaired judgment and reasoning
  • loss of motivation, planning ability, and organizational skills
  • problems with calculations
  • behavioral problems, including suspiciousness, paranoia, and agitation

Dementia is caused by or exacerbated by a number of different disorders:

  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Parkinson's disease and other movement disorders
  • Lewy body dementia
  • Frontotemporal dementia (including Pick's disease)
  • Many additional lesser known neurodegenerative diseases
  • strokes (vascular dementia)
  • depression
  • medication side effects
  • vitamin deficiencies
  • hormonal imbalances
  • alcohol and other toxic conditions
  • kidney, liver, cardiac, or respiratory failure
  • subdural hematomas
  • tumors
  • multiple sclerosis
  • hydrocephalus
  • prion diseases (Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease)
  • infectious diseases

Since there are many causes for dementia, it is usually necessary for an individual with dementia symptoms to undergo a detailed examination which includes: Neurological exam, paper and pencil tests of memory and thinking abilities, brain scan (CT or MRI), and blood tests before a specific diagnosis can be made.