"The Difference Between Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia"

"While Alzheimer’s disease and dementia do have some similarities, they are not the same disease. However, this is often misunderstood, as people use them interchangeably, and can’t seem to differentiate between the two. If you are one of these people, don’t worry – in this article, you will learn about the differences between the two diseases.
When dealing with something as serious as this, many don’t care about the difference between the terms, which is completely understandable. However, we believe that being informed can help empower you and lead to you better understanding your or a loved one’s diagnosis or condition. This can also give some people more relief since they can make sense of the disease and it can result in better care being provided to your loved one now that you know what’s going on.

What Is Dementia?

Dementia is an umbrella term for symptoms such as cognitive decline and decline in memory and reasoning skills. It can also affect judgement, behavior, thinking, and language. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 47.5 million individuals around the world suffer from the various different types of dementia.
Although Alzheimer’s disease is a common cause of dementia, there are many different kinds of dementia. These include the following:
  • Frontotemporal Dementia
  • Lewy Body Dementia
  • Vascular Dementia
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Mixed Dementia
  • Huntington’s Disease
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease
  • Korsakoff Syndrome
  • Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus
Therefore, Alzheimer’s disease is just one cause of dementia. Other causes include vascular disease, depression, repeated drug use, strokes, and infections like HIV. While there are many different causes and risk factors for dementia, it is important to remember one thing – while problems with memory are a normal part of aging, dementia is not. Dementia is brought about because of damaged brain cells and should be taken seriously.
Dementia cannot be diagnosed with a single test. Doctors require a physical examination as well as various neurological tests to see whether an individual has dementia. Even when dementia is determined, it can be extremely hard to narrow down what kind of dementia it is – this is because of constant changes in the brain and because of the overlapping symptoms of the different types of dementia.

What Is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is a specific disease and falls under the category of dementia. In fact, it accounts for the majority of cases of dementia, with numbers ranging from 60% to 80%. According to the National Institute of Health, more than 5 million people in the United States suffer from Alzheimer’s disease.
It is important to note that Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disease, which means that it worsens over time. Because the disease is caused by brain changes and cell damage, it starts with patients not being able to remember new information and progresses to symptoms like disorientation, behavioral changes, and confusion.
It is also important to note that like dementia, Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging. Old age is a risk factor, but the disease is not one of natural progression. Alzheimer’s also isn’t restricted to those 65 and older – early-onset Alzheimer’s disease also exists and is seen in around 5% - 6% of all Alzheimer’s patients.
Alzheimer’s effect on the human brain can be disastrous. Damage exists for years before the disease is diagnosed and consists of abnormal protein deposits forming tangles and plaques in the individual’s brain. Because cells can no longer communicate with each other, they begin to die. In severe cases, the brain actually shrinks because of this.
An Alzheimer’s diagnosis cannot be made for sure until the patient is dead, and an autopsy is performed. However, it should be noted that doctors diagnose it correctly 90% of the time. Like in dementia, many different tests are required before a diagnosis is made. These include physical tests, cognitive tests, brain scans, neurological tests, and more.

Alzheimer’s Disease vs. Dementia

Because dementia is more of an umbrella term than a specific disease, it is not comparable to Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, while dementia sometimes responds to treatment, Alzheimer’s disease unfortunately does not. Both, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia cannot be reversed, but in the case of Alzheimer’s disease, there is also no way of slowing it down. This makes care especially important for those with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Caring for Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia

Despite their various differences, the two diseases have one thing in common – they often require care as the individual’s memory starts to deteriorate. This can be extremely challenging, especially when needs increase and family members find it difficult to juggle care with other challenges. In fact, those who take care of their loved ones may suffer themselves because of the physical and mental toll it takes on their health.
This is where caregiving comes in. A caregiver can take away some of the pressure families face and can provide them with the peace of mind that their loved one is safe and being take care of. Additionally, with diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia, specialist care can make a huge difference in quality of life.
If you or a loved one need assistance, please reach out to us here – Interim Healthcare’s experienced and qualified caregivers can keep your loved ones both, safe and comfortable. They can consult with your loved ones’ doctors to come up with a comprehensive care plan and follow it exactly. For more information about Interim Healthcare’s specialized dementia care, click here."

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