What You Need to Know about Lewy Body, Frontotemporal and Vascular Dementia
Brian SheridanOct 13th, 2022
When it comes to dementia conditions, almost everyone has heard of Alzheimer’s disease. That’s because Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, making up between 60 and 80 percent of all cases.
However, there are other types of dementia that aren’t as much at the forefront as Alzheimer’s but are just as dangerous and life-alerting. I thought it would be helpful to raise awareness in this article about Lewy body, frontotemporal, and vascular dementia, so your family is prepared in the unfortunate event that a loved one receives a positive diagnosis.
Lewy body dementia
Lewy body dementia is the second most common type of dementia. It’s named after the abnormal protein deposits, known as Lewy bodies, that develop in nerve cells in the region of the brain that controls thinking, memory, and motor control. It may also affect the part of the nervous system that regulates blood pressure, pulse, sweating, and digestion.
Lewy bodies are also associated with Parkinson’s disease, triggering similar symptoms such as rigid muscles, difficulty walking, and tremors. People with Lewy body dementia also have the plaques and tangles often associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Some of the symptoms people experience with this type of dementia often include:
- Visual hallucinations of shapes, animals, and people, or other hallucinations that involve smell, hearing, or touch
- Cognitive problems such as confusion, poor attention, memory loss, and visual-spatial issues
- Sleep behavior disorders that trigger punching, kicking, yelling, and screaming while asleep as if physically acting out their dreams
- Episodes of drowsiness, periods of inattentiveness or staring off into space, or lack of focus
- Depression or apathy
- Sudden drops in blood pressure upon standing, incontinence, or constipation
This type of dementia accounts for approximately 10% to 20% of cases. It’s caused by the shrinking of the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, which are generally associated with personality, behavior, and language. Certain substances may also accumulate in the brain, causing further damage.
In some cases, shared genetics have been linked to frontotemporal dementia. However, research has shown that most people diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia have no family history of dementia at all. Other research has shown a link between frontotemporal dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
People with frontotemporal dementia often present dramatic changes in their personalities. They may become socially inappropriate, overly impulsive, or emotionally indifferent. Others may lose the ability to communicate verbally. Although the symptoms can vary between individuals, they will all get progressively worse over time.
Symptoms tend to appear in clusters. Some people may present multiple simultaneous clusters, which include:
Extreme changes in behavior and personality are among the most common signs of frontotemporal dementia. These signs include increasingly antisocial behavior, apathy, or a lack of empathy, judgment, or inhibition. People may also display repetitive compulsive behaviors, a decline in personal hygiene, or compulsively put things in their mouths, even if they’re inedible.
People with frontotemporal dementia may also experience language problems or impairment or loss of speech. They will often have trouble finding or using words or have difficulty understanding written writing or spoken language. Other symptoms include trouble putting sentences together, naming simple objects (such as a pen), or hesitation when trying to talk.
In some cases, motor control issues that parallel those associated with Parkinson’s disease or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) may present in people with frontotemporal dementia. Symptoms include tremors, muscle rigidity, stiffness, weakness, or spasms, difficulty walking, falling, poor coordination, problems with swallowing, or inappropriate laughing or crying.
Vascular dementia affects the part of our brain that controls reasoning, planning, judgment, memory, and other thought processes. It’s often caused by brain damage from impaired blood flow to the brain. Vascular dementia can also develop after a stroke blocks an artery in the brain. However, not everyone who has a stroke will develop vascular dementia.
Other conditions that damage blood vessels, reduce circulation, and deprive your brain of vital oxygen and nutrients can also lead to vascular dementia.
Sometimes, people contract vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease simultaneously. Although the symptoms of the two conditions are similar, signs of vascular dementia generally involve problem-solving and speed of thinking rather than memory loss.
Other symptoms of vascular dementia include confusion, trouble paying attention or concentrating, and disorganized thoughts or actions. People also tend to seem disorganized, indecisive, unsteady on their feet, or restless.
Can Memory Care help people with dementia?
No matter the type of dementia your loved one has been diagnosed with, you want them to get the best care available. Many family members pitch in to care for the person themselves, but the truth is that they often require a level of care that most families can’t provide.
Memory Care communities offer premium care services for every kind of dementia condition, wherever they are on their dementia journey. The professional staff employs patience and empathy while delivering specialized services designed to help residents have a great day, every day.
Families are encouraged to visit their loved ones in Memory Care as often as possible. I’m thrilled when families report that their older relatives are thriving in the community and see a slowing down of the symptoms. Family members can then enjoy their visits instead of focusing on providing care.
Memory Care communities are the ideal place for people with dementia to experience happiness in an environment that provides everything they need.
No-cost help finding quality Memory Care in Northeast Florida
Many families find navigating the world of senior living can be daunting and confusing, especially if they’re doing it alone or for the first time.
That’s why families looking for Memory Care communities in Northeast Florida call Brian Sheridan of Assisted Living Locators. Brian and his team will take the time to get to know your elderly loved one’s needs, wants, and requirements and present a list of best-fit options that suit their lifestyle. With Brian on your side, you’ll have all the information you need to make the most informed decision possible.