Dementia Care Site Map
Causes of Dementia

 

FrontoTemporal Degeneration (FTD)

This is the name given to a group of dementias when there is degeneration in one or both of the frontal or temporal lobes of the brain.

 

It includes Frontotemporal dementia, progressive non-fluent aphasia, semantic dementia and Pick's disease.

 

About 50% of people with FTD have a family history of the disease. The frontal and temporal lobes of the brain are responsible for language skills, emotional responses and our behaviour.

 

For more information on FTD see Alzheimer's Australia's Help sheet, under heading About dementia

 

 

The Eastern Cognitive Disorders Clinic (ECDC), based at Box Hill Hospital in Melbourne, Victoria, is a diagnostic clinic specifically for patients with focal onset dementias and for those with cognitive syndromes that pose diagnostic difficulties. ECDC clinicians have a particular interest and expertise in the diagnosis and management of Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD). A referral from a medical practitioner is required in order to make an appointment in the clinic. Referrals are accepted from throughout Victoria and interstate.

 

Huntington's disease

Huntington's Victoria describes Huntington's disease (HD) as an inherited neurological disease.  This means that it is a disease of the brain which affects the nervous system and is passed down through a family line. HD is not a condition which is evident at birth. Symptoms will not usually appear until a person is between 35 and 45 years of age.  It affects a person's physical and cognitive abilities, personality and emotions.

 

HD does impact upon memory, planning and judgement but doesn't affect a person's orientation - people affected by HD can be expected to know and recognise the people about them as well as know where they are, and what day it is.

 

Parkinson's disease

Parkinson's disease is a progressive disorder of the central nervous system.

It is characterised by tremors, stiffness in limbs and joints, speech impediments and difficulty in initiating physical movements. Late in the course of the condition some people are affected by dementia associated with the degenerative processes of Parkinson's disease, although most retain intellectual functioning. Difficulties with tasks involving sequential steps, or activities which require use of short term memory are reported. (For more information see Parkinson's Australia.)

 

Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease

Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease is an extremely rare, brain condition caused by a protein particle called a 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 rapidly, mental deterioration becomes pronounced, involuntary movements appear, and the person may experience impaired vision, develop weakness in the arms or legs and finally, become comatose.

More information on Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease is available from the Department of Health fact sheet

 

Other causes of dementia

Other conditions that may produce or be associated with dementia are:

  • HIV/AIDS
  • Down Syndrome
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Certain types of head injuries
  • Brain tumors and brain hemorrhages
  • Infections of the brain
  • Exposure to certain toxins
  • Substance abuse

See Alzheimer's Australia Help Sheets under heading About Dementia for more information