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Difference Between Alzheimer’s And Dementia Diagnosis

What To Do If A Loved One Is Suspicious Of Having Dementia

What’s the Difference Between Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia?
  • Discuss with loved one. Talk about seeing a medical provider about the observed changes soon. Talk about the issue of driving and always carrying an ID.
  • Medical assessment. Be with a provider that you are comfortable with. Ask about the Medicare Annual Wellness exam.
  • Family Meeting. Start planning, and gather documents like the Health Care Directive, Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, Estate Plan.

How To Understand The Difference And Why It Matters

by Kathleen Fifield, AARP, Updated June 15, 2020

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Doctors usually rely on observation and ruling out other factors to diagnose Alzheimer’s.

En español | The terms dementia and Alzheimers have been around for more than a century, which means people have likely been mixing them up for that long, too. But knowing the difference is important. In the simplest terms, one is broader than the other. If the two were nesting dolls, Alzheimers would fit inside dementia, but not the other way around. While Alzheimers disease is the most common form of dementia , there are several other types. The second most common form, vascular dementia, has a very different cause namely, high blood pressure. Other types of dementia include alcohol-related dementia, Parkinsons dementia and frontotemporal dementia each has different causes as well. In addition, certain medical conditions can cause serious memory problems that resemble dementia.

A correct diagnosis means the right medicines, remedies and support. For example, knowing that you have Alzheimers instead of another type of dementia might lead to a prescription for a cognition-enhancing drug instead of an antidepressant. Finally, you may be eligible to participate in a clinical trial for Alzheimers if youve been specifically diagnosed with the disease.

Differences Between Alzheimers Disease And Dementia

While both conditions will impair a persons ability to think, remember, and communicate, Alzheimers has a significantly larger list of symptoms. For example, Alzheimers will also lead to symptoms like apathy, difficulty speaking, behavioral changes, depression, and even problems walking and swallowing.

Ultimately, the symptoms that individuals face are highly dictated by the disease that they are coping with. For example, people with Lewy Body dementia are likely to experience visual hallucinations while those with Parkinsons will experience involuntary movement.

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Differences Between Dementia And Alzheimer’s

Dementia is the general term used to describe a decline in cognitive function. It includes problems with thought processing, judgement, reasoning, memory, communication, and behavior control that have an impact on a person’s ability to live a normal life.

You Asked: Whats The Difference Between Alzheimers Disease And Dementia

What is the difference between Alzheimers and Dementia?

While often used interchangeably, dementia and Alzheimers disease are not the same. Dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimers disease is a specific type of dementia that causes memory loss and impairment of other important mental functions. An expert from the Texas A& M School of Public Health describes how these conditions can impact the lives of both patients and those around them, and provides insights into ways of minimizing risks.

Also Check: How Does Someone Get Alzheimer’s Disease

Treatment And Care Plans For Dementia And Alzheimers

Being able to accurately diagnose Alzheimers from other forms of dementia affects treatment plans, insurance coverage, and even care options. In most cases, dementia is irreversible and incurable. However, there are some medications that can help manage the symptoms of dementia and the drugs to treat dementia depend on the type of dementia. For example, there are drugs to make the symptoms of Parkinsons disease more manageable but there is no way to stop or slow the dementia associated with Parkinsons. Having an accurate diagnosis can help medical professionals create a comprehensive care plan.

Alzheimers is a terminal illness and individuals diagnosed with the disease live an average of 4 to 8 years after diagnosis. In the later stages of the disease, home care or moving to a memory care community may become necessary.

While dementia and Alzheimers are related conditions, they have different aspects that are important to recognize, becoming more apparent as the disease progresses. Contact one of our memory care communities today to learn more about Leisure Cares holistic approach to memory care. Our caregiving experts are ready to come alongside your family and walk this road with you.

Can Dementia Be Prevented

Although dementia cant be prevented, living a health-focused life might reduce risk factors for certain types of dementia.

Keeping blood vessels clear of cholesterol buildup, maintaining normal blood pressure, maintaining healthy blood sugar levels, staying at a healthy weight basically, staying as healthy as you can can keep your brain fueled with the oxygen and nutrients it needs to function at its highest possible level. Specific healthful steps you can take include:

  • Follow a Mediterranean diet, which is one filled with whole grains, vegetables, fruits, fish and shellfish, nuts, beans, olive oil and only limited amounts of red meats.
  • Exercise. Get at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week.
  • Keep your brain engaged. Solve puzzles, play word games and try other mentally stimulating activities. These activities may delay the start of dementia.
  • Stay socially active. Interact with people, discuss current events, and keep your mind, heart and soul engaged.

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Coping With A Diagnosis Of Dementia Or Alzheimers

Receiving a diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimers is a frightening time, both for the person with the symptoms, and their immediate family and friends. Dementia symptoms are most common in the elderly, and of course, youre bound to be worried about what the future holds.

While scary, its important to seek a diagnosis and make plans at the earliest possible stage of dementia. Thisll open up a wider range of treatment options to help manage symptoms, and give you more time to understand your choices and create a plan of action as your dementia progresses.

Youll probably need to appoint someone to have Power of Attorney over your financial affairs too, for when the time comes that you cant make these decisions yourself. Slower cognitive function and confusion over money can be early symptoms. Appointing someone to take charge of the bank account and savings is a vital step in ensuring that youre not defrauded or taken advantage of by anyone.

You may also decide to make an advanced statement. This is a document that sets out your wishes for the future in writing. It can include things like treatments you want to avoid, daily activities youd like to continue with such as going to church, and whether youd prefer to remain in your own home rather than go into a care home.

Some families use GPS tracking devices to keep an eye on relatives who might be prone to wandering, and if this is the case, it might be worth improving home security too.

Treatment And Management Options

What’s the difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia?

At present there is no cure for Alzheimers disease and no treatment can stop the condition progressing. However, medications can help stabilise or slow the decline in memory and thinking abilities. Drugs may also be prescribed for secondary symptoms such as agitation or depression, or to improve sleep. Non-drug therapies can be beneficial, such as staying active and socially connected, and managing stress.

Talking to a counsellor or psychologist is important to help manage changes in behaviour and mood.

Occupational therapy can help improve everyday functioning at home.

At all stages of Alzheimers disease, treatments and support services are available to reduce the impact of symptoms, to ensure the best possible quality of life for every person living with the condition.

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Dementia And Alzheimers: What Are The Differences

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

Dementia and Alzheimers disease arent the same. Dementia is a general term used to describe symptoms that impact memory, performance of daily activities, and communication abilities. Alzheimers disease is the most common type of dementia. Alzheimers disease gets worse with time and affects memory, language, and thought.

While younger people can develop dementia or Alzheimers disease, your risk increases as you age. Despite dementia or Alzheimers disease being most common in adults over 65, neither is considered a regular part of aging.

Symptoms of the two conditions can overlap but distinguishing them is important for management and treatment. Keep reading to learn more about the differences.

What is dementia?

The World Health Organization estimates that more than 55 million people around the world are living with dementia.

Dementia is a syndrome, not a disease. A syndrome is a group of symptoms that dont have a definitive diagnosis. Dementia affects mental cognitive tasks such as memory and reasoning. It can occur due to a variety of conditions, the most common of which is Alzheimers disease.

People can have more than one type of dementia. This is known as mixed dementia. People with mixed dementia have symptoms of two or more types of dementia. A diagnosis of mixed dementia can only be confirmed in an autopsy.

Symptoms of dementia
Causes of dementia
Vascular dementia

Alzheimer’s And Other Progressive Dementias

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, but it’s not the only one. Dementia can also be caused by other diseases, such as frontotemporal lobe dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease. These, along with Alzheimer’s, are called progressive dementias because they progress over time and are not curable. Traumatic brain injuries can also cause this kind of dementia. Since Alzheimer’s is just one possible cause of dementia, all people with Alzheimer’s have dementia, but not all people with dementia have Alzheimer’s.

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Signs And Symptoms Of Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive condition, which means the symptoms develop gradually over many years and eventually become more severe. It affects multiple brain functions.

The first sign of Alzheimer’s disease is usually minor memory problems.

For example, this could be forgetting about recent conversations or events, and forgetting the names of places and objects.

As the condition develops, memory problems become more severe and further symptoms can develop, such as:

  • confusion, disorientation and getting lost in familiar places
  • difficulty planning or making decisions
  • problems with speech and language
  • problems moving around without assistance or performing self-care tasks
  • personality changes, such as becoming aggressive, demanding and suspicious of others
  • hallucinations and delusions
  • low mood or anxiety

Read more about the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

What Can I Expect If I Have Dementia

What is the difference between dementia and Alzheimer

Getting a diagnosis of dementia is certainly difficult to hear. Several types of dementia arent reversible. Others are a side effect of other serious diseases. Some dementia-like symptoms are due to conditions that can be treated and reversed.

Your healthcare team, which will probably include a neurologist and/or a geriatric-psychiatrist or a geriatrician, will order the needed tests to make the correct diagnosis. The medications available today focus on slowing the decline.

The goal is to maintain your or your loved ones quality of life. Some people with Alzheimers dementia can live up to two decades, but each person has their own unique course. Researchers continue learning about the mechanisms that cause dementia and testing different methods to slow, and someday, hopefully, cure this disease.

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Are There Different Types Of Dementia

Dementias can be divided into three groups:

  • Reversible dementia-like symptoms caused by other illnesses or causes.

Primary dementia

Types of primary dementia include:

Dementia due to other diseases and conditions

Other causes of dementia include:

Dementias due to reversible causes

Some conditions can cause dementia-like symptoms that can be reversed with treatment, including:

What Is The Difference Between Dementia And Alzheimer’s

Most people are able to go well into old age without experiencing significant decline in memory or other cognitive functions. But trouble with memory, critical thinking skills, and other aspects of daily life are a reality for many people over the age of 60. Some of this is indeed natural. But as various symptoms begin to add up, it is worth seeking medical advice to find out whether or not dementia or Alzheimer’s disease might be at play.

Symptoms of dementia go beyond minor inconveniences as they progress, they interfere more and more with day-to-day activities and undermine quality of life. There are many different dementia symptoms that indicate a range of possible conditions, from those affecting brain cells to those involving an excess of spinal fluid in the brain.

Many of these conditions are progressive, but some can be managed. Knowing the early warning signs can help you be prepared if medical care becomes necessary. Here is what you need to know about dementia vs. Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of cognitive decline.

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What Are The Causes Of Dementia

Dementia is caused by damage to your brain. Dementia affects your brains nerve cells, which destroys your brains ability to communicate with its various areas. Dementia can also result from blocked blood flow to your brain, depriving it of needed oxygen and nutrients. Without oxygen and nutrients, brain tissue dies.

Damage to your brain results in different symptoms, depending on the area of your brain affected. Some dementias arent reversible and will worsen over time. Other dementias are due to other medical conditions that also affect your brain. Another group of health issues can result in dementia-like symptoms. Many of these conditions are treatable, and the dementia symptoms are reversible.

All of the possible causes of dementia are discussed in the question, Are there different types of dementia?

What Are The Most Common Types Of Dementia

How to tell the difference between Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia
  • Alzheimers disease. This is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for 60 to 80 percent of cases. It is caused by specific changes in the brain. The trademark symptom is trouble remembering recent events, such as a conversation that occurred minutes or hours ago, while difficulty remembering more distant memories occurs later in the disease. Other concerns like difficulty with walking or talking or personality changes also come later. Family history is the most important risk factor. Having a first-degree relative with Alzheimers disease increases the risk of developing it by 10 to 30 percent.
  • Vascular dementia. About 10 percent of dementia cases are linked to strokes or other issues with blood flow to the brain. Diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol are also risk factors. Symptoms vary depending on the area and size of the brain impacted. The disease progresses in a step-wise fashion, meaning symptoms will suddenly get worse as the individual gets more strokes or mini-strokes.
  • Lewy body dementia. In addition to more typical symptoms like memory loss, people with this form of dementia may have movement or balance problems like stiffness or trembling. Many people also experience changes in alertness including daytime sleepiness, confusion or staring spells. They may also have trouble sleeping at night or may experience visual hallucinations .

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What Causes Alzheimers Disease

Apart from the few people with familial Alzheimers disease, it is not known why some people develop Alzheimers disease and others do not.

Health and lifestyle factors that may contribute to the development of Alzheimers disease include:

  • physical inactivity
  • changes in ability to plan, problem solve, organise and think logically
  • taking longer to do routine tasks
  • language and comprehension difficulties, such as problems finding the right word
  • increasing disorientation in time, place and person
  • problems in becoming motivated and initiating tasks
  • changes in behaviour, personality and mood.

Someone experiencing symptoms may be unable to recognise any changes in themselves. Often a family member or friend of someone affected will observe changes in a person.

Symptoms vary as the condition progresses and as different areas of the brain are affected. A persons abilities may fluctuate from day to day, or even within the same day. Symptoms can worsen in times of stress, fatigue or ill-health.

Common Forms Of Dementia

There are many different forms of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form and may contribute to 60-70% of cases. Other major forms include vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies , and a group of diseases that contribute to frontotemporal dementia . Dementia may also develop after a stroke or in the context of certain infections such as HIV, harmful use of alcohol, repetitivephysical injuries to the brain or nutritional deficiencies. The boundaries between different forms of dementia are indistinct and mixed forms often co-exist.

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Dementia: Memory Difficulties And Other Symptoms

Dementia is a condition that affects memory, thinking, and social abilities that can greatly impact daily life. It isnt a disease, but a series of symptoms brought on by different conditions that affect the brain. It can be brought on by many factors including vascular changes, vitamin deficiencies, and medication interactions.

Its essential to maintain a balanced lifestyle so that you can adjust to changes your body undergoes as you age.

There are steps we can take now to prevent the cognitive decline that experts have long believed to be unavoidable and irreversible, says Dr. Dale Bredesen, renowned neurologist and subject matter expert on cognitive decline.

Alzheimers Vs Dementia: The Main Differences

Dementia vs. Alzheimer
  • Discovery Village At Sugarloaf
  • Alzheimers Vs. Dementia: The Main
  • Even though Alzheimers disease and dementia are used interchangeably, there are distinct variations between the two. It is easy to confuse the two terms, however, understanding the differences between Alzheimers vs. dementia can help to personalize your approach towards them.

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    What Are The 7 Stages Of Dementia

    According to theReisberg Global Deterioration Scale, these are the indications of the seven stages of dementia.

    Stage 1: No Cognitive Decline

    No indications of memory deficit symptoms.

    Stage 2: Age-associated Memory Impairment

    Indications of forgetfulness of familiar names and objects.

    Stage 3: Mild Cognitive Impairment

    Displaying signs of more than one of the following:

    • geographical confusion and getting lost when traveling to an unfamiliar place
    • poor work performance

    Denial becomes an attribute and can be followed by symptoms of mild to moderate anxiety.

    Stage 4: Mild Dementia

    Exhibiting signs of not being up to date on current events, memory difficulties about personal past, concentration deficit involving mathematical computation, lowered ability to travel and manage finances, difficulties in recognizing familiar people and faces, and lack of ability to perform complex tasks. Denial sets in as a defense mechanism. They may become apathetic and withdraw from the new changing and challenging environment.

    Stage 5: Moderate Dementia

    The patient becomes dependent on assistance and has trouble recalling current data, including historically familiar addresses, phone numbers, and names of close family members. They may appear disoriented about time and season. They may experience indecision about their choice of clothing, but dont typically require assistance with going to the restroom or eating.

    Stage 6: Moderately Severe Dementia

    Stage 7: Severe Dementia

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