What is the Difference Between Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease?

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Sarah Williams

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Do you know Dementia and Alzheimer’s are not the same? Many people assume both these are the same and use them interchangeably. Dementia is a general term for an individual’s mental ability decline that interferes with daily life. However, Alzheimer’s is a common cause of dementia.

Learning about the difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia is essential. Proper knowledge can empower individuals living with Alzheimer’s or another dementia type.

YourDementiaTherapist can give all the detailed insights into dementia.

Both might have some common causes and symptoms but are different. So, what is the exact difference between the two health conditions? The article describes the difference between Dementia and Alzheimer’s. Here we go!

Difference Between Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease

Dementia vs. Alzheimer’s

Dementia is a general term that describes symptoms impacting daily activities, memory, and communication abilities. It is of chronic or progressive nature. Dementia has several types based on causes and symptoms like Lewy body dementia, Frontotemporal dementia, vascular, and Parkinson’s disease.

In other words, the prime character of dementia is brain degeneration, and its disorder types result from abnormal brain changes.

However, Alzheimer’s is a common dementia type that worsens with time and affects language, memory, and thought. It is a progressive condition that damages the brain and worsens over time.

Causes

It is not clear what causes dementia. Several factors may cause dementia. The most common cause is brain cell destruction. Brain damage is the result of the loss of neuronal connections and neurons. Dementia mainly affects older people. Those above 85 years might have one or the other type of dementia.

However, younger adults can also get affected by dementia, but the severity of symptoms might become less. Other dementia causes include  HIV, stroke, depression, vascular diseases, and chronic drug use.

Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia, but everyone with dementia does not have Alzheimer’s. It is caused due to some unusual protein build-up in the brain. The protein molecules form tangles and plaques in the brain that affect the individual’s ability to communicate. Slowly the cells begin to damage until they do not function properly.

Symptoms

Symptoms of dementia include

  • Memory, communication, and speech issues
  • Lack of concentration and focus
  • Lesser ability of judgment and reasoning
  • Unable to detect the difference in colors

The later stage of dementia demands caregivers or family members to be present all the time with the patient. Physical changes like stiff joints, decreased strength, posture change, and brittle bones increase dependency on the caretaker.

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s are the following –

  • Apathy
  • Depression
  • Difficulty in remembering conversations or events
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Behavioral changes
  • Difficulty speaking, walking, and swallowing in advanced stages.

Screening and treatment

A proper diagnosis of dementia is mandatory to differentiate dementia from other mental health conditions. The ways with which practitioners detect dementia include –

  • Dementia screening
  • Physical symptoms review
  • Medication’s review
  • Blood tests
  • Imaging scans
  • Psychological scans

The primary two dementia treatments are medications and non-drug therapy. The most common medication is Cholinesterase inhibitors that work by slowing down the breakdown of acetylcholine. The chemical helps the patient form memories and improve their judgment capabilities. It can delay the worsening symptoms of dementia.

Non-drug or occupational therapy is a way to manage the symptoms. It requires trained dementia caregivers to help the patient become self-sufficient to some extent. They make them understand how to do their daily tasks like bathing, eating, and dressing. Some treatments follow a mixed approach that includes medications and therapy.

Alzheimer’s treatment includes relieving symptoms to an extent. Based on the patient’s severity, the doctor may opt for medications or exposure to sunlight.

Outlook

The available treatments for dementia are applied to make the symptoms manageable as there is no sure way of stopping the brain damage completely. Some dementia types are reversible, but the majority are irreversible and cause mental and physical impairment over time.

Alzheimer’s disease is a terminal illness that does not have a cure. It is best to talk to the doctor if you are concerned about the symptoms and start the treatment early.

Conclusion

Alzheimer’s and dementia can be distressing for you and your family as you lose memory, cognitive functions, and body balance. Seek treatment promptly if you begin to notice symptoms of any dementia form of Alzheimer’s. Moral and physical support of family and caregiver can help to limit the complications of the condition.

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