Encore is focused on providing specialized programs for people with Alzheimer’s or other related Dementia diseases. Dementia is a general term (not a diagnosis) for loss of memory, language, problem-solving and other thinking abilities that are severe enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia. Think of Dementia as an umbrella term with the various types of Dementia identified under it. Our staff has been trained to understand the major types of Dementia’s to provide an amazing experience for your loved one at the center. Here is a graphic showing the most common types of Dementia.
Dementia is not a single disease; it’s an overall term — like heart disease — that covers a wide range of specific medical conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease. Disorders grouped under the general term “dementia” are caused by abnormal brain changes. These changes trigger a decline in thinking skills, also known as cognitive abilities, severe enough to impair daily life and independent function. They also affect behavior, feelings, and relationships.
Memory problems are typically one of the first signs of Alzheimer’s, though initial symptoms may vary from person to person. A decline in other aspects of thinking, such as finding the right words, vision/spatial issues, and impaired reasoning or judgment, may also signal the very early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a condition that can be an early sign of Alzheimer’s, but not everyone with MCI will develop the disease.
People with Alzheimer’s have trouble doing everyday things like driving a car, cooking a meal, or paying bills. They may ask the same questions over and over, get lost easily, lose things or put them in odd places, and find even simple things confusing. As the disease progresses, some people become worried, angry, or violent. Doctors agree about the benefits your loved one will enjoy by attending Encore. Socialization can help slow the progress of the disease.
Behavior variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) is characterized by prominent changes in personality and behavior that often occur in people in their 50s and 60s, but can develop as early as their 20s or as late as their 80s. In behavior variant frontotemporal dementia, the nerve cell loss is most prominent in areas that control conduct, judgment, empathy and foresight, among other abilities.
Primary progressive aphasia (PPA) is the second major form of frontotemporal degeneration that affects language skills, speaking, writing and comprehension. PPA normally comes on in midlife, before age 65, but can occur in late life also. The two most distinctive forms of PPA have somewhat different symptoms:
- In semantic variant of PPA, individuals lose the ability to understand or formulate words in a spoken sentence.
- In nonfluent/agrammatic variant of PPA, a person’s speaking is very hesitant, labored or ungrammatical.
It’s really important that you share with the staff the specific dementia diagnosis of your loved one we can best meet their unique needs.
Lewy body dementia
Most experts estimate that Lewy body dementia is the third most common cause of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia, accounting for 5 to 10 percent of cases.
The hallmark brain abnormalities linked to Lewy body dementia are named after Frederich H. Lewy, M.D., the neurologist who discovered them while working in Dr. Alois Alzheimer’s laboratory during the early 1900s. Alpha-synuclein protein, the chief component of Lewy bodies, is found widely in the brain, but its normal function isn’t yet known.
Lewy bodies are also found in other brain disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease dementia. Many people with Parkinson’s eventually develop problems with thinking and reasoning, and many people with Lewy body dementia experience movement symptoms, such as hunched posture, rigid muscles, a shuffling walk and trouble initiating movement.
This overlap in symptoms and other evidence suggest that Lewy body dementia, Parkinson’s disease and Parkinson’s disease dementia may be linked to the same underlying abnormalities in how the brain processes the protein alpha-synuclein. Many people with both Lewy body dementia and Parkinson’s dementia also have plaques and tangles — hallmark brain changes linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
Parkinson’s disease dementia
Parkinson’s disease dementia is a decline in thinking and reasoning that develops in many people living with Parkinson’s at least a year after diagnosis. The brain changes caused by Parkinson’s disease begin in a region that plays a key role in movement, leading to early symptoms that include tremors and shakiness, muscle stiffness, a shuffling step, stooped posture, difficulty initiating movement and lack of facial expression. As brain changes caused by Parkinson’s gradually spread, they often begin to affect mental functions, including memory and the ability to pay attention,
make sound judgments and plan the steps needed to complete a task.
The key brain changes linked to Parkinson’s disease and Parkinson’s disease dementia are abnormal microscopic deposits composed chiefly of alpha-synuclein, a protein found widely in the brain with a normal function not fully known. The deposits are called “Lewy bodies” after Frederick H. Lewy, M.D., the neurologist who discovered them while working in Dr. Alois Alzheimer’s laboratory during the early 1900s.
Lewy bodies are also found in several other brain disorders, including dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). Evidence suggests that DLB, Parkinson’s disease and Parkinson’s disease dementia may be linked to the same underlying abnormalities in the brain processing of alpha-synuclein. Another complicating factor is that many people with both Parkinson’s disease and DLB dementia also have plaques and tangles — hallmark brain changes linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
A study published on July 29, 2019 in Scientific Reports suggests that Lewy bodies are problematic because they pull alpha-synuclein protein out of the nucleus of brain cells. The study, which examined the cells of living mice and postmortem brain tissue in humans, reveals that these proteins perform a crucial function by repairing breaks that occur along the vast strands of DNA present in the nucleus of every cell of the body. Alpha-synuclein’s role in DNA repair may be crucial in preventing cell death. This function may be lost in brain diseases such as Parkinson’s and DLB, leading to the widespread death of neurons.
Inadequate blood flow can damage and eventually kill cells anywhere in the body, but the brain is especially vulnerable.
In vascular dementia, changes in thinking skills sometimes occur suddenly after a stroke, which blocks major blood vessels in the brain. Thinking difficulties may also begin as mild changes that gradually worsen as a result of multiple minor strokes or another condition that affects smaller blood vessels, leading to widespread damage. A growing number of experts prefer the term “vascular cognitive impairment” (VCI) to “vascular dementia” because they feel it better expresses the concept that vascular thinking changes can range from mild to severe.
Vascular brain changes often coexist with changes linked to other types of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease and Lewy body dementia. Several studies have found that vascular changes and other brain abnormalities may interact in ways that increase the likelihood of dementia diagnosis.