Alzheimer’s DiseaseDementia Types

Let's Talk About the Types of Dementia

A range of brain diseases and conditions can cause symptoms of dementia. We help you understand the most the common ones.

    Our Pro PanelDementia Types

    We went to some of the nation's top experts in dementia to bring you the most up-to-date information possible.

    Zoe Arvanitakis, M.D. headshot.

    Zoe Arvanitakis, M.D.Medical Director; Professor of Neurological Studies

    Rush Memory Clinic; Rush Medical College
    James R. Bateman III, M.D., MPH

    James R. Bateman III, M.D., MPHAssistant Professor of Neurology and Psychology

    Wake Forest School of Medicine
    Winston-Salem, NC
    Mary Sano, Ph.D.

    Mary Sano, Ph.D.Director of the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center and Professor of Psychiatry

    Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
    New York City

    Frequently Asked QuestionsDementia Types

    Is there a difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia?

    Dementia refers to cluster of symptoms that mainly affect critical thinking and memory loss and makes it harder for you to go about your daily life without help. If you have mild dementia, you need help with more complicated things like paying your bills and doing errands. As the dementia gets worse, you need a lot of help doing ordinary things like going to the bathroom and making meals. There are several types of dementia, and Alzheimer’s is the most common—about 60% to 80% of folks with dementia have Alzheimer’s.

    What is mild cognitive decline? Is it a form of dementia?

    No, but about half the people who are diagnosed with mild cognitive decline (MCI) go on to develop some type of dementia, mainly Alzheimer’s. When you have MCI, you typically forget appointments, aren’t as efficient as you once were, and might misplace things more often, but you can still drive and work and live your life. If you’ve been diagnosed with MCI, doing things to protect your heart (staying active, reducing stress, eating healthy foods) can keep your brain healthy too.

    Can you just have one type of dementia?

    Yes, but experts now think mixed dementia—when you have two or more types of dementia—is more common than they once thought. In fact, one study found that three-quarters of people who’d been diagnosed with cognitive decline or dementia had two different types of dementia and over half had three.

    What is the most common dementia after Alzheimer’s?

    The second runner-up is vascular dementia, which is caused when the blood vessels in the brain are blocked or damaged from a stroke or years of high blood pressure. But vascular dementia technically isn’t a neurodegenerative disease—the term doctors use for conditions that cause cells in your brain to slowly stop working over time. If you’re speaking about neurodegenerative forms of dementia, then the second most common after Alzheimer’s is dementia with Lewy bodies.

    Linda Rodgers

    Linda Rodgers


    Linda Rodgers is a former magazine and digital editor turned writer, focusing on health and wellness.