How To Understand The Difference And Why It Matters
by Kathleen Fifield, AARP, Updated June 15, 2020| 0
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.
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.
Difference Between Amnesia And Alzheimers
Amnesia vs Alzheimers
The difference between amnesia and Alzheimers Disease may be confusing to many people since several of their symptoms are similar. Both of these illnesses cause psychological malfunctioning and, in some cases, both are incurable. People are also misinformed about what causes them and why patients contract these abnormalities. However, we can distinguish between the two conditions by separating them and explaining their differences.
When a patient has amnesia, it means that he or she has lost a certain part or the whole of their memory. Although this condition is not present at birth, it can be acquired as a result of different factors and situations. In many instances, amnesia can be a permanent state, especially in more serious cases. There are many causes for amnesia, such as accidents, head injuries, physical trauma, and post-traumatic stress, amongst other things. This illness has specific classifications and some minor cases can be cured. Amnesia can be classified into many categories and sub-categories and they vary with upon each case.
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Whos Most At Risk Of Alzheimers And Dementia
There are a few factors than can affect how likely you are to get dementia. The main one is age: the older you get, the more likely you are to get it. At age 6064, around one in 100 people have it. This rises to around six in 100 for people aged 7579, and as high as 30 in 100 at age 9094.
Some of the risk factors for dementia are actually within your control. For example: smoking, being overweight, and not getting enough exercise all seem to increase the risk of dementia. Its also thought that poor diet might play a part.
There are some other health conditions that increase your risk of dementia, including unmanaged diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, particularly later in life, Parkinsons disease, normal pressure hydrocephalus, Downs syndrome, and some forms of multiple sclerosis.
Dementia generally doesnt run in the family, but theres evidence that it can in some situations. Alzheimers is one of the causes that can have a genetic link: someone with a parent, brother or sister with Alzheimers will be at slightly increased risk.
When looking at the difference between Alzheimers and dementia, the key thing to remember is that the two arent mutually exclusive, one is a type of the other. A person with Alzheimers also has dementia, but only some people with dementia have Alzheimers.
Alzheimer’s Disease: Symptoms & Treatment
Alzheimers is a progressive brain disease that is caused due to complex brain changes following cells to waste away, damage, and die. It slowly affects the brain causing impairment in cognitive abilities and memory. Alzheimers disease is progressive in nature and worsens over time.
The cause of this is unknown. In Alzheimers disease, there is a formation of abnormal structures in the brain, which blocks communication between the brain cells leading to the death of brain cells. It is not possible to diagnose someone with this disease with complete accuracy, but the patient is diagnosed as probable Alzheimers disease.
The symptoms of dementia and Alzheimers may overlap, but there are some differences. Similar symptoms include reduced ability to think, impairment in communication, and memory.
Symptoms of Alzheimers mostly include –
Early Stages Of Dementia
This may appear as simple forgetfulnessmisplacing the checkbook, forgetting someones name, or going into the kitchen to get something and not remembering what that was. Is the problem dementia, or just being overtired or distracted? Arent most folks over 65 a little more forgetful?
In this early stage, patients are still able to live and function independently, although increased contact with family and friends, and some assistance, like weekly housecleaning services, can help. In this way, a trusted caregiver can monitor the patients ability to cope with mild dementia.
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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Difference Between Alzheimers And Senility
The disorder of Alzheimers and Senility are both related to mental health. Both Alzheimers and Senility occur when the communication within the brain is affected. The person loses memory and is not able to recall the events and recognize faces of the known and conversations. The main reason behind this is in the brain which, lacks interneuron connection.
What Is Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimers disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting up to 70% of all people with dementia. It was first recorded in 1907 by Dr Alois Alzheimer. Dr Alzheimer reported the case of Auguste Deter, a middle-aged woman with dementia and specific changes in her brain. For the next 60 years Alzheimers disease was considered a rare condition that affected people under the age of 65. It was not until the 1970s that Dr Robert Katzman declared that “senile dementia” and Alzheimers disease were the same condition and that neither were a normal part of aging.
Alzheimers disease can be either sporadic or familial.
Sporadic Alzheimer’s disease can affect adults at any age, but usually occurs after age 65 and is the most common form of Alzheimer’s disease.
Familial Alzheimers disease is a very rare genetic condition, caused by a mutation in one of several genes. The presence of mutated genes means that the person will eventually develop Alzheimer’s disease, usually in their 40’s or 50’s.
The Healthy Human Brain
Behind the ears and temples are the temporal lobes of the brain. These regions process speech and working memory, and also higher emotions such as empathy, morality and regret. Beneath the forebrain are the more primitive brain regions such as the limbic system. The limbic system is a structure that is common to all mammals and processes our desires and many emotions. Also in the limbic system is the hippocampus a region that is vital for forming new memories.
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What Is Dementia And What Are The Symptoms
Dementia is the term for a group of symptoms that occur when the brain is damaged by diseases. This includes Alzheimers disease or diseases of the blood vessels that can cause a stroke. These diseases can cause a significant decline in a persons mental abilities or cognitive function our capacity for things like memory, thinking and reasoning.
For a doctor to diagnose dementia, a persons symptoms must have become bad enough to significantly affect their daily life, not just be an occasional minor irritation. This means having new problems with everyday activities about the house, in the community or at work. For example, starting to have problems paying household bills, using the phone, managing medicines, driving safely or meeting up with friends.
If a person has symptoms that are worse than would normally be expected for a healthy person their age, but are not severe enough to significantly affect their daily life, a doctor may diagnose mild cognitive impairment . This is not a type of dementia, though some people who have MCI will go on to develop dementia.
Faqs About Dementia And Alzheimers Disease
- Are dementia and Alzheimer’s disease the same?
As outlined throughout this post, dementia and Alzheimers disease are two different things. Dementia is a group of symptoms that affect the mental abilities of an individual. Its a general term used to describe the decline in ones mental ability to a point that it interferes in their daily life. Alzheimers disease, on the other hand, is a progressive disease. Its a type of dementia that causes impairment in memory, language, and thoughts.
- Are dementia and Alzheimer’s disease hereditary?
People who have Alzheimers disease running in their family are more likely to have it they are at a higher risk. The same goes for dementia. However, only in rare cases, theres a strong link between dementia and genes. There are many other factors that determine whether a person can have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
- Is dementia and Alzheimer’s disease a mental illness?
Dementia and Alzheimers disease do affect mental health. However, they arent particularly a mental illness but rather a brain disorder or a progressive neurodegenerative condition.
- How is dementia and Alzheimer’s disease diagnosed?
There are no definite tests to diagnose dementia and Alzheimers disease. Doctors consider various factors, including medical history, laboratory tests, change in behaviour, and more to determine if someone has dementia or Alzheimers disease.
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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.
Talking With Your Health Care Provider
Aging is a difficult process for many people, and talking to your health care provider about your concerns can be very beneficial. They can provide you with information and resources to help ease your concerns or improve your quality of life if you have any of these conditions.
There are simple screening tests that health care professionals can perform during routine medical visits, Ory said. Knowing the signs and symptomatology of dementia is important as there are medications that can reduce your symptomatology, and, along with being more active and engaging in other healthy lifestyles, can improve your quality of life.
Although there are no medications or treatment that can cure dementia or Alzheimers, medications and a healthy lifestyle will help you process your condition as well as possible. Ask your physician about safety and limitations. There is nothing shameful about having dementia.
Before people talked about dementia in medical terms, theyd say that the patient was crazy or senile, Ory said. People dont use those terms now because they recognize its a medical condition and not about personality or willpower. Alzheimers and dementia are far too common and are not something we can ignore.
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The Difference Between Dementia And Alzheimers Disease According To Experts
In everyday conversations, its common practice to use the terms Alzheimers and dementia as if they mean the same thing. Many people do think that theyre interchangeable, but there are differences,Claire Sexton, D.Phil., director of scientific programs and outreach for theAlzheimers Association, points out. Knowing the difference can help you navigate the world of brain health a little more easily and get the right diagnosis.
Main Differences Between Alzheimers And Senility
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How Can We Help You
At Patricia Whites, we are dedicated to our clients and providing exemplary homecare for those who need it most. If you want to find out more about our care services, then please get in touch with us. You can speak to a member of our expert team and they will be more than happy to answer any questions.
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.
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Symptoms Specific To Frontotemporal Dementia
Although Alzheimers disease is still the most common type of dementia in people under 65, a higher percentage of people in this age group may develop frontotemporal dementia than older people. Most cases are diagnosed in people aged 45-65.
Early symptoms of frontotemporal dementia may include:
- personality changes reduced sensitivity to others feelings, making people seem cold and unfeeling
- lack of social awareness making inappropriate jokes or showing a lack of tact, though some people may become very withdrawn and apathetic
- language problems difficulty finding the right words or understanding them
- becoming obsessive such as developing fads for unusual foods, overeating and drinking
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Normal Aging Memory Loss Vs Dementia
Memory problems dont always indicate dementia. According to the National Institute on Aging, its perfectly natural to experience age-related memory loss.
Forgetfulness can be a normal part of aging. As people get older, changes occur in all parts of the body, including the brain, they advise. As a result, some people may notice that it takes longer to learn new things, they dont remember information as well as they did, or they lose things like their glasses. These usually are signs of mild forgetfulness, not serious memory problems
So how do you tell the difference between normal memory loss due to aging and dementia symptoms? Its not an exact science , but the chart below can help give you an idea of what youre up against.
Normal Aging Memory Loss
Consistently demonstrating poor decision-making skills
Forgetting what day it is
Forgetting what season it is
Searching for the right word to use in conversation
Struggling to maintain a conversation
Forgetting to pay a monthly bill
Experiencing problems with managing finances
Losing a commonly used item, like keys or glasses
Misplacing things frequently and being unable to locate them within the house
Forgetting the name of a recent acquaintance
Forgetting the name of a close friend or family member
Difficulty driving to a new location
Getting lost while driving in familiar places
Typical mood fluctuations consistent with their personality
Dramatic mood swings or changes in personality
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