Differences Between Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Portrait of the smiling elderly woman, sitting outdoorAlzheimer’s disease is a commonly used word when discussing the aging process and the elderly.  However, more often than not, this word is misused when discussing memory loss and everything tends to get lumped into the “Alzheimer’s” bucket.

So what is really the difference between Alzheimer’s and different types of memory loss that can be categorized as dementia?

Alzheimer’s and dementia contain a distinct difference.  The term dementia refers to a set of symptoms, not the disease itself.

The symptoms might include language difficulty, loss of recent memory, decrease in short term memory, or a decrease in a person’s ability to perform everyday activities.  Dementia is caused by physical changes in the brain that are visible to a neurologist in a scan.  Unlike “senility,” which is a decrease in mental capacity or short-term memory function that is a normal part of aging, dementia symptoms are a set of serious conditions that are not a normal part of the aging process.

 

Alzheimer’s disease

The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, which accounts for 60 to 80 percent of Dementia cases.  Some specific symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s are difficulty remembering names and recent events, apathy, and depression.  As the Alzheimer’s disease progresses, symptoms include impaired judgment, disorientation, confusion, and behavioral changes.

 

Vascular Dementia

Vascular dementia, previously known as multi-infarct and occurs after a stroke, is the second most common type of dementia.  Vascular dementia is the second most common form of dementia.  A common initial symptom of vascular dementia is the inability to plan steps needed to complete a task. Through the use of brain imaging, a doctor can often detect blood vessel problems implicated in vascular dementia.

 

Dementia with Lewy Bodies, or “DLB.”

The third most common form of dementia is Dementia with Lewy Bodies, or “DLB.”  The symptoms of DLB are similar to those of Alzheimer’s but include initial symptoms such as sleep disturbances, well-formed visual hallucinations, and muscle rigidity. Other conditions can cause symptoms of dementia including even some that are reversible like thyroid problems, urinary tract infections, and vitamin deficiency.

 

Differences Between Dementia and Alzheimer’s

A concluding remark on dementia and Alzheimer’s disease is that no two people with Alzheimer’s or any form of dementia are alike.  Dementia affects everyone differently.  When you are a caregiver for a loved one that has Alzheimer’s or dementia, it is important to get additional training for coping with and helping that person.  At Alvita Care, we have a team of caregivers that have received additional licensure from New York City and New York State as well as through the Alzheimer’s Association to be a caregiver for loved ones with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.

 
We Have Special Skills for Helping Patients with Alzheimer’s or dementia:

Communicating with Alzheimer’s clients
Preventing wandering
Ensuring healthy and adequate meals
Participating in exercise
Engaging in activities
Monitoring for a safe home environment

Our caregivers are available to assist with personal care, household services, respite and/or companion care while bringing exceptional compassion, skills and knowledge about Alzheimer’s and dementia to our clients.

 

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