Rarer types of dementia

Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia, but there are many rarer diseases and conditions that can lead to dementia, dementia-like symptoms or mild cognitive impairment.

What are the rarer types of dementia?

Most people who are living with dementia have Alzheimer’s disease or vascular dementia. However, many other diseases and conditions can also cause dementia. These pages explain some of these rarer types.

In the UK, about 1 in 20 people living with dementia have a rarer type. Alzheimer’s Society provides support and information for anyone affected by dementia. These pages include information about how to get in touch with specialist organisations that specifically help people with rarer causes of dementia:

  • Atypical Alzheimer’s disease
    — Frontal variant Alzheimer’s disease (fvAD)
    — Posterior cortical atrophy (PCA)
  • Corticobasal syndrome (CBS)
  • Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (CJD)
  • HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder (HAND)
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH)
  • Progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP)

Dementia is caused when the brain is damaged by diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, or a series of strokes. Rarer types of dementia can involve these same changes, but they may start in a different part of the brain to more common types. For this reason, a person with a rarer type of dementia might have different symptoms, particularly during the early stages of the condition. For more information see What is dementia? and The brain and dementia.

Rarer types of dementia may also be caused by something different, such as an infection that affects the brain. Others, such as CADASIL and Huntingdon’s disease, are caused by a person having a faulty gene. It is not fully understood why a person might develop a rarer type of dementia rather than a common type.

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