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What Is The Difference Between Dementia And Alzheimer’s Uk

What Are The Symptoms Of Dementia

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

Everybody with dementia will experience symptoms differently. It also depends on what is causing the dementia. Most dementia symptoms fall into three categories.

  • Difficulties with remembering, thinking and language. For example, being forgetful, disorientated and repeating questions. Or struggling to remember words and have conversations.
  • Difficulties completing daily activities. For example, struggling to take care of yourself or your home, or getting lost in familiar places.
  • Emotional problems and changes in behaviour. For example, becoming withdrawn, low or anxious, being restless and have trouble sleeping.

Sometimes people with Alzheimers struggle to communicate how theyre feeling because of the changes to their brain. This means they might get upset or act aggressively if theyre feel scared, upset or confused.

Are There Treatments For Alzheimers And Dementia

There are some non-medical treatment options, which can help you live well with dementia. These include emotional support and activities to support your physical and mental health.

There are also medical treatments available for some causes of dementia, and Alzheimers disease. The aim of treatment is to help your brain function. They can help you live independently and manage your symptoms.

Current treatments can slow the progress of Alzheimers disease. But they wont stop it completely or reverse its effects. Its also important to know that treatment doesnt work for everyone.

Differences Between Dementia And Alzheimers

Given these facts, it is surprising that a large number of people do not know the differences between dementia and Alzheimers disease.

Dementia is an umbrella term that describes symptoms that occur when the brain is affected by a range of different diseases and conditions. Usually beginning with small episodes of forgetfulness, dementia will cause the victim to lose their concept of time and their ability to find their way in familiar settings. As dementia becomes more severe, the person will become progressively more forgetful and confused. It will be a challenge for them to remember faces and names and they will eventually be unable to care for themselves independently.

Amongst the many forms of dementia some are much more common than others:

Alzheimers Disease

The cause for 50 – 70% of dementia cases. The Alzheimers brain becomes damaged years before symptoms become known, and will gradually ruin memory and thinking skills, ultimately destroying the ability to do everyday tasks.

Over time brain cell connections disappear and gradually die brain scans have even shown evidence of significant brain tissue shrinkage.

There is medication available that can manage Alzheimers, however researchers are yet to discover how to reverse this devastating disease.

Vascular Dementia

Vascular dementia is the second most common type of dementia and affects roughly 150,000 people in the UK.

Dementia with Lewy Bodies

Lewy bodies are small deposits of protein in nerve cells.

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Risk Factors And Prevention

Although age is the strongest known risk factor for dementia, it is not an inevitable consequence of biological ageing. Further, dementia does not exclusively affect older people young onset dementia accounts for up to 9% of cases. Studies show that people can reduce their risk of cognitive decline and dementia by being physically active, not smoking, avoiding harmful use of alcohol, controlling their weight, eating a healthy diet, and maintaining healthy blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Additional risk factors include depression, social isolation, low educational attainment, cognitive inactivity and air pollution.

What Are The Symptoms Of Alzheimers


If you have Alzheimers, the first symptom tends to be problems with your memory. You might also lose interest in your favourite activities or hobbies. Other early symptoms might include finding it difficult to do daily tasks. You may also befeeling more irritable than usual.

Alzheimers tends to develop gradually. Over time your symptoms tend to get worse, and new ones may appear.

As time goes on, you may get more confused, and struggle to plan and follow instructions. In the later stages of Alzheimers, more serious symptoms can appear. This can include hallucinations, having trouble swallowing and difficulty moving around.

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What Are The Signs Distinguishing Alzheimers

Alzheimers Disease is a type of dementia and therefore it can share similarities with other types of dementias but dementia is not a disease in itself. Dementia causes include different diseases that affect the brain and result in a decline in thinking ability. Alzheimers is one type of dementia with some specific signs that can help doctors distinguish it from other types of dementia, but this can be difficult given the overlap of symptoms amongst dementia diseases. Cognitive testing and Neurological investigations can help identify the areas of cognition and parts of the brain that are most likely affected.

For instance, Alzheimers Disease is more commonly known to affect the hippocampus, an area of the brain involved with learning and memory. Therefore, patients with Alzheimers commonly struggle with memory and also word-finding and problem-solving. They may also lose awareness of the difficulties they are having. Other types of dementia diseases may show a different profile and brain scans may reveal different parts of the brain to be more affected. For instance, with Lewy-body Dementias, such as Parkinsons Disease, symptoms often include visual hallucinations, muscle rigidity and sleep disturbances.

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, repetitive physical 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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Practical Tips For People With Alzheimer’s

If you have Alzheimer’s disease, you may find it useful to:

  • keep a diary and write down things you want to remember
  • pin a weekly timetable to the wall
  • put your keys in an obvious place, such as in a large bowl in your living room
  • have a daily newspaper delivered to remind you of the day and date
  • put labels on cupboards and drawers
  • keep useful telephone numbers by the phone
  • write yourself reminders for example, put a note on the front door to remind you to take your keys with you if you go out
  • programme people’s names and numbers into your telephone
  • set the alarm on your watch to act as a reminder
  • install safety devices such as gas detectors and smoke alarms throughout your home

It may also be helpful to get in touch with a local or national Alzheimer’s or dementia support group, such as the Alzheimer’s Society, for more information and advice about living with Alzheimer’s disease.

Read more about living well with dementia

What Increases The Risk For Dementia

What’s the difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia?
  • AgeThe strongest known risk factor for dementia is increasing age, with most cases affecting those of 65 years and older
  • Family historyThose who have parents or siblings with dementia are more likely to develop dementia themselves.
  • Race/ethnicityOlder African Americans are twice more likely to have dementia than whites. Hispanics 1.5 times more likely to have dementia than whites.
  • Poor heart healthHigh blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking increase the risk of dementia if not treated properly.
  • Traumatic brain injuryHead injuries can increase the risk of dementia, especially if they are severe or occur repeatedly.

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Isnt Dementia Part Of Normal Aging

No, many older adults live their entire lives without developing dementia. Normal aging may include weakening muscles and bones, stiffening of arteries and vessels, and some age-related memory changes that may show as:

  • Occasionally misplacing car keys
  • Struggling to find a word but remembering it later
  • Forgetting the name of an acquaintance
  • Forgetting the most recent events

Normally, knowledge and experiences built over years, old memories, and language would stay intact.

What Are The Main Types Of Dementia

Dementia isn’t a disease in itself, it’s a term used to describe symptoms caused by other diseases that affect the brain. Knowing the type of dementia means treatment can be more specific to an individual’s needs.

The most common types of dementia are:

Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia that targets the part of the brain that controls memory, language and thought. Alzheimer’s and dementia often get confused with one another, which can cause upset and confusion.

Vascular dementia

Vascular dementia is the second most common type of dementia, after Alzheimer’s disease. This type of dementia is caused when the brain becomes damaged due to lack of blood supply, for instance following a stroke.

Other types of dementia

There are many other, rarer, types of dementia such as dementia with Lewy bodies or frontotemporal dementia. Conditions such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease may lead to someone developing dementia.

The many different types and related conditions can be confusing and overwhelming if you have received a dementia diagnosis or know someone with it. Ask your doctor if you have any questions.

Dementia in the UK

  • 850,000 people have dementia in the UK.
  • 1 in 6 people over 80 have dementia.
  • Only 43% of people with dementia have actually been diagnosed.

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

What Is The Difference Between Dementia And Alzheimers


Dementia is a general term used to describe the deterioration of a person’s mental ability.

It is an umbrella term, as there are many different types of it.

One of those is Alzheimer’s – the most common form of dementia, Alzheimer’s Assocation explains.

It accounts for 60-80 per cent of dementia cases, which is why the names may sometimes be used interchangeably.

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The Differences Between Alzheimers And Dementia

The most important difference to remember between Alzheimers and dementia is that dementia is not a disease. It is, in fact, just a term to describe a set of symptoms. The reason why these terms are used so often together is that the effects of Alzheimers are usually characterised by dementia. That is, symptoms such as memory loss, difficulties solving problems and a slowing down of thought processing.

These symptoms can be caused by a range of different diseases, including but not limited to Alzheimers. Are dementia and Alzheimers treated differently?

As dementia can be caused by diseases and conditions other than Alzheimers, treatment of the symptoms will vary depending on the cause. However, in many cases, treatments for dementia and Alzheimers will be similar as they tend to overlap.

Treatments for Alzheimers may include medication to treat various symptoms, such as antipsychotics or antidepressants for behavioral changes and other types of medications that address symptoms including memory loss and problems sleeping.

Getting help & support

If you are concerned that either yourself or a loved one is living with Alzheimers and dementia, its important to talk to a health professional for a formal diagnosis.

For an informal, confidential chat around how we can support you, please get in touch with our team.

You can also find more helpful resources online from the following sources:

What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Dementia

Signs and symptoms of dementia result when once-healthy neurons, or nerve cells, in the brain stop working, lose connections with other brain cells, and die. While everyone loses some neurons as they age, people with dementia experience far greater loss.

The symptoms of dementia can vary and may include:

  • Experiencing memory loss, poor judgment, and confusion
  • Difficulty speaking, understanding and expressing thoughts, or reading and writing
  • Wandering and getting lost in a familiar neighborhood
  • Trouble handling money responsibly and paying bills
  • Repeating questions
  • Not caring about other peoples feelings
  • Losing balance and problems with movement

People with intellectual and developmental disabilities can also develop dementia as they age, and recognizing their symptoms can be particularly difficult. Its important to consider a persons current abilities and to monitor for changes over time that could signal dementia.

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The Difference Between Dementia And Alzheimers And How They Overlap

With Dementia Action Week running from the 20-26 May this year, we thought it would be a good time to shine a light on the condition. We also want to explore some of the differences between dementia and Alzheimers, another common condition that affects older people.

If youre not sure of the differences between the two, youre certainly not alone. We hope this article will help!

Myths About Dementia And Alzheimers Disease

What is the difference between Alzheimer’s & Vascular Dementia?

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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Referral To A Specialist

Your GP may refer you to a specialist memory assessment service to help with your diagnosis. Memory clinics are staffed by professionals from multiple disciplines who are experts in diagnosing, caring for and advising people with dementia and their families.

Memory clinic staff can include the following, depending on your local area:

  • a nurse usually a trained mental health nurse who specialises in diagnosing and caring for people with dementia
  • a psychologist a healthcare professional who specialises in the assessment and treatment of mental health conditions
  • a psychiatrist a qualified medical doctor who has training in treating mental health conditions
  • a neurologist a specialist in treating conditions that affect the nervous system
  • a geriatrician a physician with specialist training in the care of older people
  • a social worker a trained member of staff able to advise and assist with accessing social services within the local area
  • an occupational therapist a member of staff with specialist skills in assessing and supporting people with dementia and their families with adjusting to disabilities

There’s no simple and reliable test for diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease, but the staff will listen to the concerns of both you and your family about your memory or thinking. They will assess your skills and arrange more tests to rule out other conditions.

The Difference Between Dementia And Alzheimers Disease

Dementia is an umbrella term that describes a set of symptoms affecting memory, thinking or reasoning that can be caused by a number of individual progressive conditions, one of which is Alzheimers Disease. When someone is diagnosed with dementia, they are often told what type of dementia they have. Doctors are usually able to diagnose a person depending on the symptoms they are experiencing. A doctor may also recommend a scan that can show structural changes within the brain.

Its important to remember Alzheimers disease is not dementia. Its actually a type of dementia and a condition in its own right. Other types of dementia include Vascular dementia, Frontotemporal dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies among others.

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What Are The Stages Of Dementia

Many cases of dementia start with early warning signs.

This early stage is known as cognitive impairment and can be barely noticeable or mistaken for something else, such as depression.

These include slight:

  • problems with attention and concentration
  • mood or behavioural changes

These symptoms can indicate that some brain damage has already occurred and treatment needs to be started immediately before symptoms get worse and are more difficult to treat.

Changes often happen in sudden steps, with relatively stable periods in between, although it’s difficult to predict when these steps will happen – so acting fast is the key.

As well as the symptoms listed above, further possible signs can include feeling disorientated and confused, memory loss and difficulty concentrating, struggling to find the right words and severe personality changes – including becoming aggressive, finding it difficult to walk, struggling to control urination and seeing things that aren’t there.

The signs for early Alzheimer’s are similar including losing items frequently, forgetting conversations or events and getting lost on familiar journeys.

How Is Dementia Diagnosed

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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:

  • Psychiatric evaluation. This evaluation will help determine if depression or another mental health condition is causing or contributing to a person’s symptoms.
  • Genetic tests. Some dementias are caused by a persons genes. In these cases, a genetic test can help people know if they are at risk for dementia. It is important to talk with a genetic counselor before and after getting tested, along with family members and the doctor.
  • 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.

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