From Common to Rare Types of Dementia & Accurately Making Diagnoses

Last Updated: September 03, 2018

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, but there are a number of other related dementias. Each type of dementia has a different cause and affects inflicted people in varying ways. However, there are also many commonalities among the dementias, which may make it difficult to tell with which type of dementia a person has been infected.

Below are the most common types of dementia listed in order of how commonly they are seen. All are progressive dementias, meaning they get worse over time, and tend to be seen most often in older age groups. Please note, it is possible for a person to have more than one type of dementia at the same time.

 Watch a short video that discusses the types of dementia and the importance of diagnosis (1 minute 45 seconds long)


Most Common Types of Dementia

Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) – AD is the most common type of dementia. It affects memory first and later progresses to affect other cognitive (brain) abilities, such as speech, ability to reason, and movement.

Vascular or Multi-Infarct Dementia – This type of dementia is often the result of a stroke in which small areas of the brain are irreversibly damaged. Onset of vascular dementia is often sudden. Symptoms depend upon the area of the brain affected, but often memory and other cognitive functions, such as decision-making, are impaired.

Dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB) – DLB leads to a decrease in cognitive ability, hallucinations, movement problems, and delusions.

Frontotemporal Dementia – Abbreviated as FTD, this type of dementia affects personality and speech, but not memory.


Rare Forms of Dementia

The following forms of dementia are less common than the previously mentioned dementias and vary as to the age of onset:

  • Parkinson’s Disease Dementia
  • Huntington’s Disease
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease and Other Prion Diseases
  • Dementia in HIV/AIDS
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome (Includes dementia from alcohol abuse)

To learn more about these lesser-known dementias, click here.


An Accurate Diagnosis is Key

Before addressing problems with dementia, an accurate diagnosis must be made, which can be done by having a thorough doctor’s examination. Sometimes problems with cognition are temporary, or reversible. Delirium is one condition seen in the elderly, which can be caused by illness or changes in medication. Have your loved one’s symptoms assessed by a medical doctor to be sure your approach is targeting the correct illness!


Providing Care for a Loved One with Any Type of Dementia

While there are many varying types of dementia, the strategies and tips for caregivers of people who have dementia are similar. To learn more about providing care for someone diagnosed with dementia, regardless of type, click here.