Is There Treatment Available
At present there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. However, one group of drugs called cholinergeric drugs appears to be providing some temporary improvement in cognitive functioning for some people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease.
Drugs can also be prescribed for secondary symptoms such as restlessness or depression or to help the person with dementia sleep better.
Community support is available for the person with Alzheimer’s disease, their families and carers. This support can make a positive difference to managing dementia. Dementia Australia provides support, information and counselling for people affected by dementia. Dementia Australia also aims to provide up-to-date information about drug treatments.
For more information contact the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500.
For a range of books and videos contact our Library.
For advice, common sense approaches and practical strategies on the issues most commonly raised about dementia, read our Help Sheets.
What Is Known About Alzheimers Disease
Scientists do not yet fully understand what causes Alzheimers disease. There likely is not a single cause but rather several factors that can affect each person differently.
- Age is the best known risk factor for Alzheimers disease.
- Family historyresearchers believe that genetics may play a role in developing Alzheimers disease. However, genes do not equal destiny. A healthy lifestyle may help reduce your risk of developing Alzheimers disease. Two large, long term studies indicate that adequate physical activity, a nutritious diet, limited alcohol consumption, and not smoking may help people. To learn more about the study, you can listen to a short podcast.
- Changes in the brain can begin years before the first symptoms appear.
- Researchers are studying whether education, diet, and environment play a role in developing Alzheimers disease.
- There is growing scientific evidence that healthy behaviors, which have been shown to prevent cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, may also reduce risk for subjective cognitive decline. Heres 8 ways.
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How Is Dementia Diagnosed
To diagnose dementia, doctors first assess whether a person has an underlying, potentially treatable, condition that may relate to cognitive difficulties. A physical exam to measure blood pressure and other vital signs, as well as laboratory tests of blood and other fluids to check levels of various chemicals, hormones, and vitamins, can help uncover or rule out possible causes of symptoms.
A review of a persons medical and family history can provide important clues about risk for dementia. Typical questions might include asking about whether dementia runs in the family, how and when symptoms began, changes in behavior and personality, and if the person is taking certain medications that might cause or worsen symptoms.
The following procedures also may be used to diagnose dementia:
Early detection of symptoms is important, as some causes can be treated. However, in many cases, the cause of dementia is unknown and cannot be treated. Still, obtaining an early diagnosis can help with managing the condition and planning ahead.
Is There A Cure For Dementia
Because it is not a disease, but rather a syndrome, there cant be one cure for dementia, there can only be cures for the diseases that cause it, and most of these diseases are incurable.
That said, research has found that there are ways to decrease the risk of dementia through lifestyle interventions such as improving diet, increasing physical activity, and avoiding alcohol and tobacco.
What Causes Alzheimers Disease
Alzheimers disease takes place when proteins amass in the brain, interfering with brain cells ability to function normally. Unfortunately, researchers have not yet determined the cause of this protein build up.
That said, Alzheimers disease has been known to run in families. While there is no Alzheimers gene, scientists have identified three genes that are often associated with the disease.
The terms dementia and Alzheimers are often used interchangeably. They, however, are not completely synonymous. Dementia is a group of symptoms characterized by a decline in memory, thinking, and reasoning. Dementia is not simply the age-related forgetfulness it is associated with other changes as well. It hinders a person from performing their routine tasks. They find it difficult to focus, understand, concentrate, and have a conversation besides other complaints. There are several causes of dementia:
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The Effects Of Alzheimers On The Brain
Damage to the brain begins years before symptoms appear. Abnormal protein deposits form plaques and tangles in the brain of someone with Alzheimers disease. Connections between cells are lost, and they begin to die. In advanced cases, the brain shows significant shrinkage.
Its impossible to diagnose Alzheimers with complete accuracy while a person is alive. The diagnosis can only be confirmed when the brain is examined under a microscope during an autopsy. However, specialists are able to make the correct diagnosis up to 90 percent of the time.
The symptoms of Alzheimers and dementia can overlap, but there can be some differences.
Both conditions can cause:
- behavioral changes
- difficulty speaking, swallowing, or walking in advanced stages of the disease
Some types of dementia will share some of these symptoms, but they include or exclude other symptoms that can help make a differential diagnosis. Lewy body dementia , for example, has many of the same later symptoms as Alzheimers. However, people with LBD but are more likely to experience initial symptoms such as visual hallucinations, difficulties with balance, and sleep disturbances.
People with dementia due to Parkinsons or Huntingtons disease are more likely to experience involuntary movement in the early stages of the disease.
Treatment for dementia will depend on the exact cause and type of dementia, but many treatments for dementia and Alzheimers will overlap.
Get Care For Dementia And Alzheimers Disease Today
Now that you understand the difference between dementia and Alzheimers disease, you know why seeking care early is important. Prompt treatment from memory care professionals can help slow the decline and preserve the brain function of your loved ones.
If your loved one is experiencing Alzheimers or any other kind of dementia, reach out to us at Parsons House on Eagle Run. We have experienced professionals on hand who can help prepare a care plan for your family. Parsons House is an award-winning Best of Omaha Assisted Living & Memory Care facility. Contact us today to learn more!
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The Bottom Line And Where To Find Insurance Coverage
When it comes to dementia vs Alzheimer’s, the symptoms are generally the same. The biggest difference is that many different diseases and disorders can cause dementia, including Alzheimer’s. But Alzheimer’s only has one cause: the death of brain cells.
Does your current insurance policy cover treatments for dementia and/or Alzheimer’s disease? If not, we’re here to help. Get a free health insurance quote from Insurdinary today.
Getting Help With Dementia And Alzheimer’s
There is no known cure for most types of dementia, but treating the set of symptoms can improve quality of life. Doctors can prescribe antipsychotics and medications for sleep changes, depression, and memory loss. People with dementia can also practice at-home remedies to boost overall brain health. Dieting and exercise can help, as with vitamin supplements and cutting back on smoking or drinking . Environmental factors like air pollution can also play a role, so avoiding these types of spaces can also help to mitigate the progression of dementia.
Some dementia cases can actually be reversed. If the dementia is caused by a curable disease or infection, then treating the source can lead to a return to normal cognitive functioning. The same can be said for dementia caused by problems with metabolism, endocrine, nutrition, medication, and other non-permanent issues.
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What Is Alzheimers Disease
Alzheimers disease is a physical disease that affects the brain. Abnormal structures called plaques and tangles build up inside the brain. These disrupt how nerve cells work and communicate with each other, and eventually cause them to die.
There is also a shortage of some important chemicals in the brain of someone with Alzheimers disease. Reduced levels of these chemicals mean that messages dont travel around as well as they should.
Alzheimers disease usually begins gradually with mild memory loss. The person may have difficulty recalling recent events or learning new information. Other symptoms may include difficulties finding the right words, solving problems, making decisions, or perceiving things in three dimensions.
As Alzheimers progresses, problems with memory loss, communication, reasoning and orientation become more severe. The person will need more day-to-day support from those who care for them.
There is currently no cure for Alzheimers disease. However, treatments may temporarily ease some symptoms or slow down their progression in some people.
Dementia Vs Alzheimer’s: What Is The Difference Topic Guide
- Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia that causes a person to have difficulty thinking, reasoning, and recalling memories. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease and it has seven different stages, beginning with mild memory loss, leading to significant loss of the ability to speak, eat, and more.
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The Types Of Dementia
Doctors categorize dementia into different types based on the diseases and/or disorders that cause it. In general, you can distinguish between progressive disorders causing irreversible dementia, diseases causing dementia, and conditions causing reversible dementia-like symptoms.
Examples of conditions causing irreversible dementia include Alzheimer’s, Vascular dementia, Lewy Body dementia, and Frontotemporal dementia.
Diseases like Huntington’s, Creutzfeld-Jakob, and Parkinson’s also lead to dementia in later stages. And traumatic brain injuries can cause so much brain damage, they can sometimes lead to dementia down the line.
Finally, some forms of dementia are reversible. Some infections, medications, and nutritional deficiencies can cause memory loss as a symptom. With treatment and/or cessation of medication, memory can return.
How Alzheimer’s Disease Is Treated
There’s currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but medicines are available that can help relieve some of the symptoms.
Various other types of support are also available to help people with Alzheimer’s live as independently as possible, such as making changes to your home environment so it’s easier to move around and remember daily tasks.
Psychological treatments such as cognitive stimulation therapy may also be offered to help support your memory, problem solving skills and language ability.
Read more about treating Alzheimer’s disease.
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How Do The Symptoms Of Dementia And Alzheimers Compare
There are a really wide range of possible dementia symptoms, but Alzheimers symptoms are a little more specific. Dementia symptoms vary depending on what is causing the dementia, and also vary from one person to the next. The main dementia symptoms fall into three different groups:
- Difficulties with remembering, thinking and language. The person might be forgetful, repeat questions, struggle to remember words and have conversations, or be disoriented.
- Difficulties with daily activities. They might struggle with their routine maybe becoming unhygienic or neglecting their home. They might also get lost in familiar places.
- Emotional and behavioural difficulties. There are a whole range of these, including being withdrawn or apathetic, low or anxious, suspicious of others, or even aggressive. The person could also be restless and have trouble sleeping.
The different causes of dementia may have different symptoms in the early stages. But as the conditions progress, someone is more likely to have the full range of dementia symptoms.
In Alzheimers specifically, the first thing that tends to appear is memory problems. The person might also lose interest in their favourite activities or hobbies. As time goes on, these problems will get worse. The person may get more confused, and struggle to plan and follow instructions. In the later stages of Alzheimers, more serious symptoms like hallucinations, aggression, depression and incontinence can appear.
What Are The Different Types Of Dementia
Various disorders and factors contribute to the development of dementia. Neurodegenerative disorders result in a progressive and irreversible loss of neurons and brain functioning. Currently, there are no cures for these diseases.
The five most common forms of dementia are:
- Alzheimers disease, the most common dementia diagnosis among older adults. It is caused by changes in the brain, including abnormal buildups of proteins, known as amyloid plaques and tau tangles.
- Frontotemporal dementia, a rare form of dementia that tends to occur in people younger than 60. It is associated with abnormal amounts or forms of the proteins tau and TDP-43.
- Lewy body dementia, a form of dementia caused by abnormal deposits of the protein alpha-synuclein, called Lewy bodies.
- Vascular dementia, a form of dementia caused by conditions that damage blood vessels in the brain or interrupt the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain.
- Mixed dementia, a combination of two or more types of dementia.
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What Are Symptoms Of Dementia And Alzheimers
Dementia symptoms can be similar to those of Alzheimers since Alzheimers disease is a form of dementia. In order to be considered dementia, the Alzheimers Association states at least two of the following core mental functions must be significantly impaired:
- Ability to focus and pay attention
- Reasoning and judgment
- Visual perception
Memory loss is the most common early symptom of Alzheimers disease. As the condition progresses, more severe symptoms develop, such as:
- Severe memory loss
Difference Between Dementia And Alzheimers Disease
There is a significant difference between Alzheimers and dementia. Dementia is an overall term that is used to describe symptoms that have an impact on the memory, communication ability, and overall performance of the person.
Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia and it is the most common form of the condition. Alzheimer’s gets worse over time and it begins to affect the language, memory, and thought process of the individual, hence early diagnosis is essential to effective treatment.
While younger people are at risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, the risk will increase as you age. However, you must note that neither dementia nor Alzheimer’s is a normal part of aging.
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Support For Families And Alzheimer’s Disease Caregivers
Caring for a person with Alzheimers can have significant physical, emotional, and financial costs. The demands of day-to-day care, changes in family roles, and decisions about placement in a care facility can be difficult. NIA supports efforts to evaluate programs, strategies, approaches, and other research to improve the quality of care and life for those living with dementia and their caregivers.
Becoming well-informed about the disease is one important long-term strategy. Programs that teach families about the various stages of Alzheimers and about ways to deal with difficult behaviors and other caregiving challenges can help.
Good coping skills, a strong support network, and respite care are other things that may help caregivers handle the stress of caring for a loved one with Alzheimers. For example, staying physically active provides physical and emotional benefits.
Some caregivers have found that joining a support group is a critical lifeline. These support groups enable caregivers to find respite, express concerns, share experiences, get tips, and receive emotional comfort. Many organizations sponsor in-person and online support groups, including groups for people with early-stage Alzheimers and their families.
The Different Types Of Alzheimer’s Disease
Doctors distinguish between three types of Alzheimer’s diseases based on when people start experiencing symptoms. The three types are:
- Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease
- Late-onset Alzheimer’s disease
- Familial Alzheimer’s disease
Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease shows up in people under the age of 65. Age is a significant risk factor for neurodegenerative disorders, which is why this type of Alzheimer’s is rare. It affects only about 5% of people with Alzheimer’s.
Late-onset Alzheimer’s is far more common. This type of Alzheimer’s disease occurs in adults over age 65.
Scientists don’t think this type of Alzheimer’s is genetic. Instead, they believe that lifestyle factors and aging play a more significant role. Still, we need more research to know for sure.
FAD is the only type of Alzheimer’s disease that we know for sure is linked to genetics. It affects only about 1% of Alzheimer’s patients. And most of these patients also suffer from early-onset symptoms.
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Difference Between Alzheimers And Dementia
Alzheimers disease and dementia are two terms that are often used interchangeably as many people believe that one means the other. In fact, the distinction between the two diseases often causes confusion on the behalf of caregivers, families and patients. Learn more about how the two diagnoses, while related, are remarkably different.
Myths About Dementia And Alzheimers Disease
The right treatment and support are critical to the well-being of anyone diagnosed with any form of dementia, so its important to know fact from fiction when it comes to these common myths.
Myth: Dementia is a normal part of aging.
Fact: Dementia is a disease of the brainnot a normal part of aging. Forgetting where you put your keys is a common problem for a lot of people as they age. But signs of dementia are more than just moments of forgetfulness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . With dementia, a person may be unable to complete ordinary tasks at home or at work, get lost in familiar places and forget the function of common items. When these symptoms appear, its time to see a doctor.
Myth: You cant reduce your risk of getting Alzheimers disease or other kinds of dementiayou either get it or you dont.
Fact: Adopting healthy habits can lower your risk of developing dementia, or at least delay the onset. Healthy body, healthy mind, says Dr. Caselli. What we can control, we should control. Though he adds that even a lifetime of healthy habits is no guarantee of protection.
Myth: Since there is no cure, theres no point in getting a diagnosis.
Myth: A diagnosis of Alzheimers or another form of dementia means life as you know it will soon end.
Myth: Coping with a family member with Alzheimers is overwhelmingly difficult.
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