Types of Dementia and Memory Loss
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Houston Methodist’s team of brain specialists work together to preserve brain function and to protect the quality of life for patients with dementia and memory loss.
Houston Methodist neurologists have specialized training and experience in dementia and memory loss, and they rigorously work to determine its cause. Though most dementias cannot be cured or reversed at this time, researchers at the Nantz National Alzheimer Center continue to make crucial scientific progress.
Dementia is not a disease, but a group of symptoms caused by a variety of factors. Dementia is marked by cognitive decline, such as a loss of memory and thinking ability — severe enough to interfere with everyday life. Personality, mood and behavior changes can also occur.
Our specialists work with you to develop a personalized and targeted treatment, including medications and therapies to slow the progression of dementia — intended to manage symptoms. They also connect you with an ongoing support system to help improve your quality of life.
Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most common neurodegenerative diseases and causes of dementia among people age 65 and older. It is not a normal part of aging. Individuals with Alzheimer’s disease normally exhibit abnormal lesions blocking the brain. The brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease also show loss of nerve cells, leading to brain shrinkage.
The exact cause of Alzheimer's disease is not known. Researchers believe that Alzheimer’s disease may result from a combination of genetics, environment and lifestyle that leads to damage to the cells of the brain.
There is no known cure for Alzheimer’s. Treatment focuses on lifestyle modifications, caregiver support and medications. In 2021, the FDA approved the medication (Aducanumab, Aduhelm™) to treat Alzheimer’s disease with a goal of improving cognition and slowing the progression of the disease.
Vascular Dementia (Multi-Infarct Dementia – MID)
MID is related to Alzheimer’s disease but occurs more suddenly and in response to brain injury. It impairs thinking, reasoning, planning and memory due to reduced blood flow to the brain. Strokes or other damage to blood vessels feeding the brain can cause brain damage, which can result in vascular dementia.
MID risk factors are the same as symptoms of cardiovascular diseases: high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, smoking and high cholesterol. Controlling risk factors can help prevent vascular dementia. Medications can be used to treat the underlying cause or keep it from worsening.
Lewy Body Dementia (LBD)
LBD impairs the ability to think, causes visual hallucinations and produces symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease, including tremors and rigid muscles.
LBD is characterized by proteins that develop near the brain stem (the back of the brain involved in controlling involuntary bodily functions) and spread to the cerebral cortex (the front of the brain involved in voluntary control of the body and thinking) and other parts of the brain.
LBD alters certain brain chemicals, damaging the patient’s perception, thinking and behavior. There is no cure, but specialists can help mitigate the symptoms of LBD with medications.
Other Types of Dementia
It is characterized by a relatively abrupt change in personality and behavior. This type of dementia usually occurs earlier than Alzheimer’s disease (AD), between the ages of 40 and 65. Treatment focuses primarily on medications that can help manage symptoms.
Huntington’s Disease (HD)
Clinical depression, lack of impulse control and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are common. Treatments include medications, psychotherapy, speech therapy and physical therapy to alleviate some of the symptoms.
Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (NPH)
Excess fluid at higher-than-normal pressure physically distorts the brain and typically results in impaired memory, gait and bladder control. NPH can be treated by implanting a shunt that drains the excess CSF into the abdominal cavity, where it is safely absorbed. Response to treatment varies.
Parkinson’s Disease (PD) Dementia
Medications can alleviate some PD-related symptoms. Surgery called deep brain stimulation (DBS) can help with tremors in patients who don’t respond well to medications.
Learn More About Alzheimer’s Disease