10 Different Types of Dementia that Aren't Alzheimer's

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The term dementia is used broadly to describe a condition which is characterized by cognitive decline, but there are many different types of dementia. Although it is usually progressive, properly diagnosing dementia can reverse the effects and be treated and even cured completely by addressing the underlying cause. However, dementia caused by incurable conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, are irreversible.

What are the different types of dementia?

Experts estimate that Alzheimer's disease is the underlying cause of -- of all dementia cases. However, there are many other conditions which can also cause dementia, which makes it vital for the patient to obtain accurate diagnosing of dementia early on in order to get proper treatment. Following are some of the most common types of dementia and their causes.

1. Vascular Dementia
The second most common form of dementia, vascular dementia is caused by poor blood flow to the brain, which deprives brain cells of the nutrients and oxygen they need to function normally. One of the ten different dementia types, vascular dementia can result from any number of conditions which narrow the blood vessels, including stroke, diabetes and hypertension.

2. Mixed Dementia
Sometimes dementia is caused by more than one medical condition. This is called mixed dementia. The most common form of mixed dementia is caused by both Alzheimer's and vascular disease.

3. Dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB)
Sometimes referred to as Lewy Body Disease, this type of dementia is characterized by abnormal protein deposits called Lewy bodies which appear in nerve cells in the brain stem. These deposits disrupt the brain's normal functioning, impairing cognition and behavior and can also cause tremors. DLB is not reversible and has no known cure.

4. Parkinson's Disease Dementia (PDD)

Parkinson's disease is a chronic, progressive neurological condition, and in its advanced stages, the disease can affect cognitive functioning. Not all people with Parkinson's disease will develop dementia, however. Dementia due to Parkinson's is also a Lewy body dementia. Symptoms include tremors, muscle stiffness and speech problems. Reasoning, memory, speech, and judgment are usually affected.

5. Frontotemporal Dementia
Pick's disease, the most common of the frontotemporal dementia types, is a rare disorder which causes damage to brain cells in the frontal and temporal lobes. Pick's disease affects the individual's personality significantly, usually resulting in a decline in social skills, coupled with emotional apathy. Unlike other types of dementia, Pick's disease typically results in behavior and personality changes manifesting before memory loss and speech problems.

6. Creutzfeldt-Jacob Dementia (CJD)
CJD is a degenerative neurological disorder, which is also known as mad cow disease. The incidence is very low, occurring in about one in one million people. There is no cure. Caused by viruses that interfere with the brain's normal functioning, dementia due to CJD progresses rapidly, usually over a period of several months. Symptoms include memory loss, speech impairment, confusion, muscle stiffness and twitching, and general lack of coordination, making the individual susceptible to falls. Occasionally, blurred vision and hallucinations are also associated with the condition.

7. Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (NPH)
Normal pressure hydrocephalus involves an accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain's cavities. Impaired drainage of this fluid leads to the build-up and results in added pressure on the brain, interfering with the brain's ability to function normally. Individuals with dementia caused by normal pressure hydrocephalus often experience problems with ambulation, balance and bladder control, in addition to cognitive impairments involving speech, problem-solving abilities and memory.

8. Huntington's Disease

Huntington's disease is an inherited progressive dementia that affects the individual's cognition, behavior and movement. The cognitive and behavioral symptoms of dementia due to Huntington's include memory problems, impaired judgment, mood swings, depression and speech problems (especially slurred speech). Delusions and hallucinations may occur. In addition, the individual may experience difficulty ambulating, and uncontrollable jerking movements of the face and body.

9. Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome
Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is caused by a deficiency in thiamine (Vitamin B1) and often occurs in alcoholics, although it can also result from malnutrition, cancer which have spread in the body, abnormally high thyroid hormone levels, long-term dialysis and long-term diuretic therapy (used to treat congestive heart failure). The symptoms of dementia caused by Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome include confusion, permanent gaps in memory, and impaired short-term memory. Hallucinations may also occur.

10. Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)
Dementia can be due to medical illness, medications and a host of other treatable causes. With mild cognitive impairment, an individual will experience memory loss, and sometimes impaired judgment and speech, but is usually aware of the decline. These problems usually don't interfere with the normal activities of daily living. Individuals with mild cognitive impairment may also experience behavioral changes that involve depression, anxiety, aggression and emotional apathy; these can be due to the awareness of and frustration related to his or her condition.

How to diagnose dementia

The health care professional you meet with will need to know the symptoms the patient is experiencing, their duration, frequency and rate of progression. The doctor will do everything he or she can to make the patient comfortable while diagnosing dementia, which includes addressing the patient's fears regarding the types of dementia and condition. Diagnosing dementia requires a full review of the patient's health care, family history and medication history. This includes evaluating the patient for depression, substance abuse and nutrition, and other conditions that can cause memory loss, including anemia, vitamin deficiency, diabetes, kidney or liver disease, thyroid disease, infections, cardiovascular and pulmonary problems. The patient must also undergo a physical exam and blood tests in order to determine which types of dementia the patient may be suffering from.

Not every doctor is familiar with the complexities of dementia diagnosis, so you'll need to find a doctor who is experienced at diagnosing different types of dementia. Currently, there is no single test that proves Alzheimer's, although it is possible to achieve 90% accuracy. However, we may have difficulty in discovering the true underlying cause. In patients with advanced findings of brain dysfunction, diagnosing dementia is fairly straightforward. But in patients with some early findings of diminished brain function, the diagnosis and its type is seldom clear. Following are some of the approaches that are commonly used in determining types of dementia.

Mini Mental State Evaluation (MMSE)

The mini-mental status exam is a very brief evaluation of the patient's cognitive status used in diagnosing dementia types. The patient is required to identify the time, date and place (including street, city and state) where the test is taking place, be able to count backwards, identify objects previously known to him or her, be able to repeat common phrases, perform basic skills involving math, language use and comprehension, and demonstrate basic motor skills.


Another test for diagnosing dementia, the mini-cog takes only a few minutes to administer and is used as an initial screening for different types of dementia. The patient is required to identify three objects in the office, then draw the face of a clock in its entirety from memory, and finally, recall the three items identified earlier.

Imaging Tests: CTs, MRIs and Pet Scans

Physicians diagnosing dementia may study the structure of the patient's brain by CT or MRI to see if there are any growths, abnormalities or general shrinkage (as seen in cases of Alzheimer's). Studies of brain function, using a PET scan and a special form of MRI can more definitively confirm the diagnosis of various types of dementia and raise the accuracy of the diagnosis to 90%. A PET scan administered and reviewed by an expert delivers the most accurate and suggestive results while diagnosing dementia. The most accurate form of PET scanning for types of dementia is called Stereotactic Surface Projection, which involves an advanced statistical analysis of the data.

In 2007, led by Dr. Norman Foster, head of the Alzheimer's Center at the University of Utah, a group of elite PET scientists and dementia experts conducted a study in which they performed PET scans and clinical tests on multiple patients. The accuracy with the tests was 90% for both Alzheimer's and frontotemporal dementia types. They stated that scans increased the experts' confidence in diagnosing dementia types and made them question and sometimes change the diagnosis in 42% of cases. They stated that early and accurate diagnosing of dementia is critical to avoid misdiagnosis and mistreatment. The results of this study show that PET scanning is highly predictive of the patient's clinical course and essential to properly diagnosing dementia.

Harvey Gilbert, M.D.

Harvey Gilbert, MD, is a radiation oncologist with more than 35 years of professional experience in the medical field, working with cancer patients stricken with life-changing illnesses. See full bio

about 1 year, said...

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over 2 years, said...

I appreciate the article--it is clear and I know helpful

over 2 years, said...

Thank you for the above information. It was very helpful.

about 3 years, said...

My mom (83) was just diagnosed with dementia. She had a right brain stroke. Curable?

over 3 years, said...

What are the different types of dementia? Experts estimate that Alzheimer's disease is the underlying cause of -- of all cases. Above is a quote from this article which is highly inaccurate! There are many more types of progressive dementia that can NOT be reversed, in fact it is believed by some that there is actually more than one disease currently defined as Alzheimer's. The. There are at least 8 diseases lumped under FTD, all progressive with NO approved treatments. It is important to have a thorough diagnostic process by a doctor experienced with dementia but this article is misleading.

about 4 years, said...

Which type of Dementia would affect a person who suffered a closed-head injury in late teens, with first diagnosis of dementia coming more than 20 years later (based on periodic MRI's, with areas of concern consistent with prior physical damage)? Are there other tests this 45 year-old should have?

over 4 years, said...


over 4 years, said...

Diabetic since 1997 & memory is not as good as used to be! 64 this year. Hope memory doesn't get worse!!

over 4 years, said...

I have dementia but I dont witch one it is.

over 4 years, said...

Tell about sundowners. My mom has more of a problem at sun down. She's 90, diabetic all her life. Below 100# and eats only oatmeal.

over 4 years, said...

My wife asks the same question over and over and she puts away keys and does not remember where they are. Many years ago she was in intensive care with high blood pressure, could this be related?

over 4 years, said...

all of the information that was available.

over 4 years, said...

My husband's PET scan revealed "Mild symmetric decreased activity involving the temporal lobes. The parietal, frontal, and occipital lobes are unremarkable in appearance" Impression: Mild symmetric diminished activity involving the temporal lobes consistent with early changes of Alzheimers". Is there temporal lobe (only) dementia? I can only find info on FTD. Are any specific kinds of dementia related to TBIs? My husband has a family history of Alz. but he additionally has suffered TBI's from high school football years ago and injuries while in the military.

almost 5 years, said...

If you have a problem from a neurologist and a diagnosis with dementia don't blame him. I had a diagnosis for Mild Cognitive impairment 3yrs and 6mths ago but he had't known me before this and what I was Like. He has no line to draw from. There is one thing we can all do though is talk to your senators Alzhemers needs more tools for diagnostic work and with out you report there never will be and early dementia like mine is slowly but surely taking me. Social Security will not help at all and this is even holding up my retirement. I was diagnoised feb. 22 2010 and still have no help with social security. I am a danger to even drive and they think I can still work and also dementia gets patients in different ways. So this is hard to understand when you are frustrated and everything just keeps on not doing things like you really need love, patience and understanding is the most important thing also with some freedom to make some of your small choices is very helpful.

almost 5 years, said...

Oops! CJD is not caused by viruses. It's caused by "prions." The word was derived from "protinacious infectious protein" by Dr Stanley Prusiner, neurologist at UCSF in the early '80's.

almost 5 years, said...

My mother is 84yrs old has dementia I believe w Lewy Bodies. I believe her onset was sometime in 2006. Did not know the signs then however when she would call she would say: "someone is making obsecene calls all the time" Her SO passed Nov 2006. She has a narcissitic (sp)personality as is. Oh I was not raised by her. Just intermitent phone, mail and occasional 5-7 day vacation visits -at first me to NY then after 1980 she traveled here to CA. The visits were never enjoyable all she did was complain about $ & what she does for us (my bro & I) which was a $50 b-day or Christmas card. Her job apt and furniture were always more important. Yet when there were phone talks all she ever did was state in a nasty tone even up until last year what a terrible dgtr I am I live like a hillbilly (I live in a small mountain comm) she hates Ca etc.... So 2yrs ago she asks if she can come live with me. I had just seen her in Oct of 2010 & had no idea how out there she was and of course denying everybit of her abnormal behavior & hallucinations. Had her evaluated by a neurologist (sp) report was early signs of Mild Cognitive Impairment. I returned to CA with her accusing me of taking all of her RX in which I had just refilled and left detailed instructions for the new PT caregiver. Well now she is pretty much in space unless she wants to get up & go & I mean go like there is not one thing wrong with her. She is more defiant when she is around me. There are 2 caregivers- one has 4 days (24hr shift) the other has 2 days (24hr shifts) who provide a comfortable living setting in my 1 bdrm apt downstairs in my home. I have her for 1 24 hr shift. she has a regiment of her meds. a pacemaker her BP is great yet she complains 1 day she cant do this or that & her speech is poor Then there are days when she is defiant and just is nasty, does not want to eat or sleep her response in a nasty tone: "dont tell me what to do" or "just leave me alone" which makes being around her difficult and unpleasant. In all that I have shared my biggest question is : "then what?" I have taken a few classes and gone to a few seminars very helpful too. Yet my perplexing thoughts - if the brain is not functioning why is the body still going? there is no quality of life. She does not know where she is or what day it is or much of anything for that matter. When she watches a movies she may retain some of what it is & about then when asked about the movie she says: " I did not go or watch a movie" sometimes within minutes of the event!!! What a horrible way to live. She still recognizes me. doesnt know who the care givers names are. Oh she has been back home since June 2013 She was in a facility for 4 1/2 mths I broke my leg in late Dec & could not care for her. The facility she was in is poorly run by the administrator she only cares about $$$ & not the well being of the resident. That in itself is another story. So how long does this go on?? another 5-10yrs?? no one knows for sure I suppose it is so stressful, cant take your eye off of her who knows what shell do like - put bread all over the conter, dress & undress & want to leave at 3AM, stuff the toilet w an abundance of tp, go in-n-out of her room &/or closet, wandered off 3-4x which she thought was funny. .............,. I will close now, thought I had some incling (sp) of how to deal with her & her illness, along with the reading I had done before she came to live w me, & boy I did not know what how or why or to do, act, feel, etc.... and now time just goes on without any answers for any sort of ending, Please dont take that as a negative. There is no life there coming from her, only frustration for all concerned so no quality of life either - So whats next, now what or ?

almost 5 years, said...

I am nurse by profession and presently working in a Nursing Home taking care of an elderly and majority of them are AD my pleasure to learn more so i kept reading articles regarding Dementia so that i could able to be more familiar ,equip with more knowlegde because by the time i enter on my profession i know i have a mission to care .

about 5 years, said...

What is the final place u can put a dementra person that assaults people

about 5 years, said...

nature of treatment for different types of dementia would help

over 5 years, said...

My husband is 74 and is exhibiting some odd behavior, I'm worried it could be alzheimers. For example, today he asked me if I was going to put an ad in the lost pet's section on the computer. I asked him why, and he said, never mind, I thought one of our animals was gone, but I guess not. A few weeks ago, he asked me what I did with the keys, after we had returned from an event. I told him he had driven, not me, so I hadn't had the keys. Should I be concerned? I'm getting kind of worried about him. Thank you.

over 5 years, said...

My mother has been having confusion, thoughts of flooding, being at a wedding in nursing home, seeing a fire, not there of course. At someone's house and today she said not to come there. Because she is at someone's house again, I read all type's of dementia I am a caregiver for my mom 12 years this past 6 month is the worst seeing her start this at this home and now long-term of course, is there a name for it??

over 5 years, said...

Great info!!! EBG really cares

almost 6 years, said...

"new to the problem and have no suggestions" may be good manners, but it sounds a bit passive and uninvolved, to me. I look after a lady who has now forgotten much of her last ten years of life. And when I came in, (I am a longtime neighbor who assists, and I have some training in caregiving though I am not a nurse by profession) When I first came in on this situation, I asked the lady's son and daughter to "help me get to know Mary". They brought out photos, told some great stories, and the instruction proved not only helpful in my having background to better help with Mary's day to day care..it proved heartwarming and, forged a bond with her relatives. They knew that I was there, creating a feeling between us of trust and comfort -they knew I'd come by and look in regularly; I wasn't just there to heat up soup. I took the time to get to know her, dig in and learn about this grand lady, now 89, in the wintertime of her life. Her relatives and I exchanged email addresses and phone numbers, as well. You get what I am saying? This type of care, to be of any use, requires above all else - that you CARE. That word's meaning, in the broadest possible sense. As a result of my research, I now know Mary was a gifted artist in chalk and pastel, practiced Tai Chi, loved the music of Chet Baker, the poetry of Neruda...had a cat named ChooChoo-the thousand and one things that make a person a person, dementia or no! And that's the information we look for, that makes us, and the family, better carers!

almost 6 years, said...

I am new to this problem and have no suggestions

almost 6 years, said...

Put everything on the same Internet page so that it can be read faster and more efficiently. It is a time-wasting nuisance to have to load additional pages.