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What’s The Difference Between Alzheimer’s And Dementia

Alzheimers Is A Disease Dementia No

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

Without a doubt, one of the most important nuances. Alzheimers is a neurodegenerative disease that causes the slow but continuous degeneration of brain neurons, a pathological condition that results in the loss of physical, cognitive, behavioral and social skills and, ultimately, the death of the person. It is, therefore, a disease as such.

How Does Alzheimer’s Disease Progress

The rate of progression of the disease varies from person to person.

However, the disease does lead eventually to complete dependence and finally death, usually from another illness such as pneumonia. A person may live from three to twenty years with Alzheimer’s disease, with the average being seven to ten years.

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.

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Alzheimers Is A Kind Of Dementia But What Exactly Is Dementia

Dementia refers to the diseases that diminish the functions of the brain . As normal aging is generally accompanied by cognitive changes, it is the degree of impact and the functions impacted that distinguish normal aging from dementia.

Ordinarily, normal brain aging should not prevent us from carrying out the activities and tasks required on a daily basis . It is only when the decline in cognitive functions leads to significant difficulties in daily living that we speak of dementia. By definition, a person with dementia must therefore have difficulty performing her or his daily tasks.

Dementia is more common with age. In fact, up to one in three people over the age of 85 have some form of dementia. Recently, dementia has also been referred to as major neurocognitive disorder. Of all forms of dementia, Alzheimers Disease is the most common.

How Is Alzheimer’s Disease Diagnosed

What is the difference between Alzheimers and Dementia ...

There is currently no single test to identify Alzheimer’s disease. The diagnosis is made only after careful clinical consultation.

The clinical diagnosis might include:

  • A detailed medical history
  • Lumbar puncture for cerebral spinal fluid tests
  • Medical imaging

These tests will help to eliminate other conditions with similar symptoms such as nutritional deficiencies or depression. After eliminating other causes, a clinical diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease can be made with about 80% to 90% accuracy if the symptoms and signs are appropriate. The diagnosis can only be confirmed after death by examination of the brain tissue.

It is important to have an early and accurate diagnosis to determine whether a treatable condition other than Alzheimer’s disease, is causing the symptoms. If Alzheimer’s disease is diagnosed, medical treatment and other assistance can be discussed.

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The History Of Alzheimers Disease

Alzheimers disease was named after Dr Alois Alzheimer. In the early 20th century, the German doctor met Auguste Deter. Auguste had been admitted to an institution after she started experiencing issues with her memory and speech. She was also having trouble completing basic day-to-day activities such as writing, and experiencing changes in her behaviour she couldnt quite explain.

Dr Alzheimer would spend the next few years regularly interviewing Auguste. He would also ask her lots of questions that required the patient to recall parts of her life such as her husbands name. Augustes condition would progress rapidly over the next five years, as recorded by Dr Alzheimer. In response to his questions, Auguste would often respond Ich habe mich verloren which translates to I have lost myself.

What Is The Difference Between Alzheimers And Dementia

When we talk about Alzheimers or dementia, youll often hear both terms used almost interchangeably. Its understandable, considering the fact that they share a variety of symptoms.

But while theres definitely some overlap between the two, they both have vastly different meanings.

One is a syndromea grouping of specific symptoms that dont have a definitive diagnosis. The other is a progressive disease of the brain that causes a drastic decline in cognitive function.

So, which is which?

The difference between Alzheimers and dementia is significant.

Lets break it all down.

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Difference Between Dementia And Alzheimers

Dementia is not a single disease but a general term, like heart disease, covering a range of specific medical conditions. The term dementia describes a range of specific medical conditions, including Alzheimers disease. In general, dementia describes disorders in which abnormal brain changes occur. These changes cause a decline in thinking skills that can impair independent function and daily life. Dementia also affects behaviour, feelings, and relationships. What is dementia disease? You can refer to our previous articles to find out the answer to this question.

With complex brain changes following cell damage, Alzheimers leads to dementia symptoms that steadily worsen. The main early sign of Alzheimers is difficulty learning new information because the disease typically affects the region of the brain associated with learning first.

How Is Dementia Treated

Dementia vs. Alzheimer’s disease? What’s the difference?

There is no specific treatment for dementia and no way to reverse the damage to the brain that has already occurred.

However, treatment may help slow down the progression of the condition and the main aim is to treat the underlying cause to help prevent further problems, such as strokes.

Medicines and lifestyle changes will be encouraged including eating healthily, losing weight if necessary, stop smoking, get fit and cutting down on alcohol.

Support such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech and language therapy is also beneficial, but despite treatment dementia can significantly shorten life expectancy.

The average survival time from diagnosis is around four years and most people will die either from complications of dementia, such as pneumonia, or from a subsequent stroke.

No related posts.

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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.

Further help

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.

Alzheimers: What Is It

Alzheimers is a neurodegenerative disease that represents the main cause of dementia in the world. It is a pathology in which a progressive and irreversible deterioration of brain cells is observed, thus causing a slow but continuous loss of mental abilities that lead to the symptoms of dementia.

If, as we have said, there are about 50 million cases of dementia in the world, studies indicate that between 50% and 70% of these could be due to Alzheimers. We are facing a disease in which brain neurons gradually degenerate until they die, so damage is observed in physical, behavioral, social and cognitive abilities.

It appears practically always after the age of 65, causing the patient to lose the ability to live independently. After several years of silent development and a first stage in which the symptoms are difficult to perceive, the clearest manifestations begin: memory impairment , speech, behavior, control of emotions, sociability, understanding and, ultimately, all the characteristics of dementia.

As a last resort, when neuronal damage is such that the brain is unable even to maintain stable vital functions, the patient, who has already completely lost his autonomy, his memories and the ability to communicate, dies from Alzheimers.

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What To Do If Youre Worried About Your Memory

If you suspect youre experiencing any warning signs of dementia , the first thing to do is see a physician. Dr. Scharre recommends asking for a cognitive assessment at your annual physical so your results can be compared year-over-year and declines can be identified and addressed right awayjust like a colonoscopy, blood pressure screening, or cholesterol testing.

As with any medical condition, typically the earlier you identify it, the more options you have for treatment and typically the better you do, he says. Some forms of dementia have treatable causes while others like Alzheimers are also treatable, just not reversible or curable. Thatnew medication the FDA approved for Alzheimers, for example, only works in the mild cognitive impairment stagethats where its sweet spot is and if you start getting even a little bit more than mild dementia its not useful.

What Is Dementia And What About Alzheimers

Dementia and alzheimer

Before going deep into the differentiation of concepts and seeing these differences in the form of key points, it is interesting that we put ourselves in context and understand, individually, the clinical bases of both concepts. Therefore, below, we are going to define as concisely as possible what is dementia and what is Alzheimers.

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Where Mild Cognitive Impairment Fits In

Diagnosing and determining the type of dementia a person has can also get tricky because some people dont have full-blown dementiathey have what doctors refer to as mild cognitive impairment or MCI. With dementia, Dr. Scharre says, you often need other people to do activities for you that you used to be able to manage on your own , but with MCI, you can still do those things even if you need a bit of prompting. So youre forgetful, youre less efficient, and maybe you need verbal clues, but you can still do the function yourselfthats MCI, says Dr. Scharre.

The Difference Between Alzheimers And Dementia

Although you may hear the terms dementia and Alzheimers disease used interchangeably, it’s important to know they are distinct concepts. Alzheimer’s is a specific health condition, although it is the most common cause of dementia.

Other causes of dementia include:

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How To Prevent Dementia

Just because your mom or brother developed a form of dementia, that doesnt mean youre destined to have it as well. The good news is that there are things that we can be doing in our life to reduce our risk, says Sexton. Keep activephysically active, cognitively active, and socially activeand reduce cardiovascular risk factors. Other known risk factors for dementia include obesity, hypertension, and diabetes so monitoring and managing those conditions can help. Of course, theres no guarantee, but its smart to do whatever you can now to lower the likelihood that you will suffer from dementia later.

This is an extremely active area of research, says Sexton. She says major discoveries are on the horizon in the areas of diagnostic blood tests for dementia, modifiable risk factors like air pollution, and risk factors that vary between different populations of people. So keep an eye out for news and check out these sites to see if you or a loved one qualify to participate in research studies.

Treating Alzheimers Disease Vs Other Types Of Dementia

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

Neither Alzheimerâs nor most other types of dementia have a cure. Doctors focus treatments on managing symptoms and keeping the disease from getting worse.

Some of the treatments for dementia and Alzheimerâs overlap.

  • Cholinesterase inhibitors can help with memory loss in certain types of dementia and Alzheimerâs.
  • Glutamate inhibitors help with learning and memory in both dementia and Alzheimerâs.
  • Sleep medications may help with sleep changes.
  • Antidepressants can help with depression symptoms.
  • Antipsychotic medications may help with behavior changes.

Some types of dementia respond to treatment, depending on what is causing it. Your doctor may recommend:

  • Stopping the use of drugs and alcohol
  • Tumor removal

Show Sources

Alzheimerâs Association: âCreutzfeldt-Jakob Disease,â âFrontotemporal Dementia,â âTypes of Dementia,â âWhat is Alzheimerâs?â

Alzheimerâs Disease International: âWorld Alzheimerâs Report 2015.â

Alzheimerâs Society: âSight, perception and hallucinations in dementia.â

BrightFocus Foundation: âWhatâs the Difference Between Dementia & Alzheimerâs Disease?â âTreatments for Alzheimerâs Disease.â

Dementia Society of America: âDementia FAQs.â

Fisher Center for Alzheimerâs Research Foundation: âDementia vs. Alzheimerâs.â

Visiting Nurse Association of Ohio: âAlzheimerâs Versus Dementia.â

Mayo Clinic: âAlzheimerâs Disease,â âDementia.â

Cleveland Clinic: âDementia.â

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The Need For More Public Awareness And Research Funding

While the differences between Alzheimers and dementia are clear to families dealing with the diseases, more public awareness is needed to differentiate between the two.

Further understanding of what exactly causes Alzheimers will help to clear any confusion and hopefully lead to better treatments plans and, ultimately, a cure.

How Are They Different

When a person is diagnosed with dementia, they are being diagnosed with a set of symptoms. This is similar to someone who has a sore throat. Their throat is sore but it is not known what is causing that particular symptom. It could be allergies, a common cold or strep throat. Similarly, when someone has dementia they are experiencing symptoms without being told what is causing those symptoms.

Another major difference between the two is that Alzheimers is not a reversible disease. It is degenerative and incurable at this time. Some forms of dementia, such as a drug interaction or a vitamin deficiency, are actually reversible or temporary.

Once a cause of dementia is found, appropriate treatment and counseling can begin. Until a proper diagnosis is made, the best approach to any dementia is communication, engagement and loving care.

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What Is Vascular Dementia

Vascular dementia is the second most common type of dementia in the UK after Alzheimers disease. It occurs when the brain is damaged due to a lack of blood flow.

Sometimes people have both vascular dementia and Alzheimers, giving them a diagnosis of mixed dementia.

If the vascular system within the brain becomes damaged so that the blood vessels leak or become blocked then blood cannot reach the brain cells and they will eventually die.

This death of brain cells can cause problems with memory, thinking or reasoning, and when these cognitive problems are bad enough to impact on daily life, it is known as vascular dementia.

Dementia symptoms specific to vascular dementia include stroke-like symptoms, such as as muscle weakness, movement and thinking problems and mood changes, such as depression.

There are several different types of vascular dementia, due to the varying levels of damage on the affected part of the brain.

They include stroke-related dementia, single-infarct and multi-infarct dementia and subcortical vascular dementia.

Is Alzheimers Disease A Natural Part Of Ageing

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A common misconception about dementia is that it is a natural part of ageing. This is not the case. Alzheimers disease is the most common type of dementia, making up about 60 80% of people diagnosed. Although it is most common in older people, a small number of people under 65 will develop symptoms at an early age. People living with Alzheimers often have trouble with their memory, as well as completing common daily activities.

Reduced cognitive ability as we age is natural. However, people living with Alzheimers disease often experience memory loss at much greater levels than their peers. As with other types of dementia, a definite diagnosis of Alzheimers disease can only be obtained post-mortem. However, based upon clinical observations and testing of cognitive processes such as memory, a diagnosis can usually be made.

If youve recently been diagnosed with Alzheimers disease you may be experiencing feelings of hopelessness and depression. Its important to remember a diagnosis of Alzheimers disease doesnt spell the end of your life. Many people diagnosed with Alzheimers disease continue to live long, happy lives surrounded by their loved ones. Its also important to note the quality of life for people living with dementia has improved drastically in the last century.

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Walking And Physical Movement

Vascular dementia: Vascular dementia is often accompanied by some physical challenge. If a person has a stroke, they may have limited movement on one side of her body. Both the cognitive and physical impairments related to vascular dementia usually develop at the same time since they are often the result of a sudden condition like a stroke.

Alzheimers: Often, mental abilities like memory or judgment decline initially, and then as Alzheimer’s progresses into the middle stages, physical abilities like balance or walking show some deterioration.

How Alzheimers Is Different

At its onset, Alzheimers tends to affect more of your learning and memory than other types of dementia, which might be more likely to impact your planning or language. In the brain of a person with Alzheimers disease, there are buildups of beta amyloid protein fragments between nerve cells as well as tangles of the protein tau inside cells. Scientists dont know exactly how these plaques and tangles contribute to Alzheimers disease, but some believe they throw off communication between nerve cells and interfere with normal cell processes, according to the Alzheimers Association. As the disease progresses and more of the brain is affected, a person may experience behavior changes, confusion, delusions, and difficulty speaking or walking. Other types of dementia can progress differently, depending on what parts of the brain are affected.

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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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