Alzheimer’s Disease


 a progressive neurological disorder. The disease is a form of dementia accounting for 50% of all dementia types.

Characterized by:

  • personality changes
  • memory loss
  • cognitive decline
  • decreased social processing

Although each person with Alzheimer’s is different, most progress through a series of stages, each of which is characterized by more serious Alzheimer’s symptoms.

Mild Stage (duration 2-4yrs)

  • memory disturbance
  • careless work habits
  • still fine with familiar routines

Moderate Stage (duration 2-10yrs)

  • more substantial loss of cognitive function
  • changes with language
  • paraphasias – use words in wrong context
  • repetitive speech
  • profound confusion
  • changes in motor disturbance (use of hair brush etc)
  • forgetfulness and indifference
  • ADLs missing/ not occurring


Severe Terminal Stage

  • all mental capabilities are lost
  • decreased movement
  • rigid flexor posturing
  • incontinence
  • no ability for self care

Forms of Dementia

  1. Alzheimer’s Dimentia
  2. Parkinson’s  Dimentia
  3. Huntington’s Disease
  4. Korsakoff’s syndrome – Chronic Alcohol Abuse  Related Dimentia
  5. Lewy Body Dimentia
  6. Vascular Dimentia  
  7. AIDS related dementia
  8. Fronto Temporal Lobar Degeneration (FTLD)
  9. Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

Dementia (means “deprived of mind”) is the progressive decline in cognitive function due to damage or disease in the body. A significant loss of intellectual abilities such as memory capacity, of the severity to interfere with social or occupational functioning.

Alzheimer’s dimentia

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia and accounts for between 50 and 70 per cent of all cases. It is a progressive degenerative illness that attacks and destroys cells of the brain. Areas of the brain affected determine functional and cognitive losses.

Parkinson’s Dementia

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder of the central nervous system, characterised by tremors, stiffness in limbs and joints, speech impediments and difficulty in initiating physical movements. Late in the course of the disease, some people may develop dementia. Medications that may improve the physical symptoms, can have side effects including hallucinations, delusions and a temporary worsening of confusion and abnormal movements.

Huntington’s Dementia

Huntington’s disease is an inherited degenerative brain disease that affects the mind and body. It usually appears between the ages of 30 and 50, and is characterised by intellectual decline and irregular involuntary movement of the limbs or facial muscles. Other symptoms include personality change, memory disturbance, slurred speech, impaired judgement and psychiatric problems.

Korsakoff’s syndrome – Chronic Alcohol Abuse  Related Dementia

Too much alcohol, particularly if associated with a diet deficient in thiamine (vitamin B1), can lead to irreversible brain damage. The most vulnerable parts of the brain are those used for memory and for planning, organising and judgement, social skills and balance. Taking thiamine appears to help prevent and improve the condition.

Lewy Body Dementia

Lewy Body dementia is characterized by distinct cognitive impairment with fluctuating confusion, disturbance of consciousness, visual hallucinations, delusions, falls, and significant parkinsonism.  The hallmark feature is the widespread Lewy bodies throughout the neo and archi cortex with the presence of Lewy body and cell loss in the subcortical nuclei.

Vascular dementia
Vascular dementia is the broad term for dementia associated with problems of circulation of blood to the brain. It is the second most common form of dementia. There are a number of different types of vascular dementia. Two of the most common are:

  • Multi-infarct dementia – caused by a number of small strokes, called mini-strokes or transient ischaemic attacks (TIA). This is probably the most common form of vascular dementia.
  • Binswanger’s disease (also known as subcortical vascular dementia) – associated with stroke-related changes to the brain. It is caused by high blood pressure, thickening of the arteries and inadequate blood flow.

AIDS related dementia
AIDS related dementia, or AIDS dementia complex (ADC), is a complication that affects some people with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). It is uncommon in people in the early stages of HIV/AIDS, but may increase as the disease advances. Not everyone who has HIV/AIDS will develop ADC. It is thought to affect around seven per cent of people with HIV/AIDS who are not taking anti-HIV drugs.

ADC is a complicated syndrome made up of different nervous system and mental symptoms. There are particular issues that may need to be addressed with this type of dementia, as it often affects young people.

Fronto temporal lobar degeneration (FTLD)
This is the name given to a group of dementias that involve degeneration in one or both of the frontal or temporal lobes of the brain. It includes fronto temporal dementia, progressive non-fluent aphasia, semantic dementia and Pick’s disease. About 50 per cent of people with FTLD have a family history of the disease. Those who inherit it often have a mutation in the tau protein gene on chromosome 17, leading to abnormal tau protein being produced.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is an extremely rare and fatal brain disorder caused by a protein particle called prion. It occurs in one in every million people per year. Early symptoms include failing memory, changes of behaviour and lack of coordination. As the disease progresses – usually very rapidly – mental deterioration becomes pronounced, involuntary movements appear and the person may become blind, develop weakness in the arms or legs and, finally, lapse into a coma.

Alzheimer’s Australia Vic: Living with Dementia. 2008. Different Types of Dementia. Retrieved November 9, 2009 from

Types of Dementia


Alzheimer’s disease – Alzheimer’s dementia is the most common type of dementia, and is caused by a loss of brain cells. It is at least partly a hereditary disease, in that it tends to run in families. (Just because a relative has Alzheimer disease, however, does not mean that another family member will have the disease.) In this disease, cells in the areas of the brain that control memory and mental functions are destroyed by abnormal protein deposits in the brain. People with Alzheimer disease also have lower-than-normal levels of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters that control important brain functions. Alzheimer disease is not reversible, and there is no known cure. There are, however, medications that can slow its progress.

Vascular dementias, including multi-infarct dementia – Vascular dementias is the next most common type of dementia, and is caused by poor circulation of blood to the brain. In multi-infarct dementia, lots of tiny strokes (or infarcts) occur which cut off the blood supply to part of the brain. The progression of vascular dementia can happen in recognised steps. With this type of dementia, good control of blood pressure, good diabetic control and avoiding cigarettes may help to slow the progress.

Parkinson disease – People with this disease typically have limb stiffness (which causes them to shuffle when they walk), speech problems, and tremor (shaking at rest). Dementia may develop late in the disease, but not everyone with Parkinson disease has dementia. Reasoning, memory, speech, and judgment are most likely to be affected.

Lewy body dementia – This is caused by abnormal microscopic deposits of protein in nerve cells, called Lewy bodies, which destroy the cells over time. These deposits can cause symptoms typical of Parkinson disease, such as tremor and muscle rigidity, as well as dementia similar to that of Alzheimer disease. Lewy body dementia is more likely, however, to affect thinking, attention, and concentration than memory and language. Like Alzheimer disease, Lewy body dementia is not reversible and has no known cure. The drugs used to treat Alzheimer disease also benefit some people with Lewy body disease.

Alcohol-related dementia – Brain damage can be caused by drinking too much alcohol. It is important that people with this type of dementia give up drinking alcohol completely to stop the disease progressing.

Pick disease (frontotemporal dementia) – Pick disease is another rare disorder that damages cells in the front part of the brain. Behavior and personality changes usually precede memory loss and language problems.


What types of Dementia are there? Retrieved September 25, 2009 from