The term Dementia is an umbrella term that covers all types of dementia.
Although there are over a 100 different types of dementia, the main four are Alzheimer’s Dementia, Vascular Dementia, Frontal Lobe Dementia and Lewy Body Dementia.
Not all dementia’s are the same and no one will have the same experiences as we have all been raised with different lifestyles, values and beliefs.
If we look at Alzheimer’s Dementia, this affects the brain globally so it is likely to affect all parts of the brain covering the outer part of the brain then working inwards, and hence there is a gradual decline in the person’s memory over time. In the early stages you are likely to notice that your loved one may start being forgetful, they may go and put the kettle on to make a cup of tea but if distracted may forget to go back and complete the task. They may also have problems finding the right word whilst having a conversation or remembering people’s names or they may leave the house without their keys.
If someone has been diagnosed with Vascular Dementia, this would have been caused by damage somewhere in the brain due to a small blockage or break in an artery that has caused the blood flow to stop. A brain scan would be possible to identify the area of the brain that would be affected. Your loved one may not have any problems with memory or language, but may have difficulties in other areas. Whereas a person with Alzheimer’s has a gradual decline, people with Vascular Dementia will often have a step down decline, this is generally due to the person experiencing further strokes.
If your loved ones have a sudden change in their personality or behaviours this is likely to be Frontal Lobe dementia, which affects the front part of the brain. You may find that your loved one may become rude and socially inappropriate; such has removing their clothes in public or start to swear which would be out of character for them. Although this can be upsetting for family members to see, always remember that it is the dementia that’s causing this and not your loved one has they will have no control over what they say and do. Over time as the dementia progresses it will become more like an Alzheimer’s type dementia.
Lewy Body Dementia tends to affect the top part of the brain, so your loved one may experience the changes in personality like the Frontal Lobe Dementia, but is likely to have sequencing difficulties, so may be unable to put clothes on in the right order, they may also have problems with mobility and balance. As the occipital part of the brain can be affected this is related to vision so your loved one may experience hallucinations, this can be very distressing for your loved one as what they see or hear will be very real to them. Try and avoid big pattern on curtains and walls as they may see things in the patterns.
If you notice any of these changes in your loved ones, take them to their GP and request a Memory Assessment, as there is treatment available for Alzheimer’s which can slow the progress.