The Difference Between Alzheimers And Dementia
The word dementia doesnt refer to one specific condition. It actually describes a set of symptoms that result from a deterioration of brain function. These symptoms can include problems with thinking, reasoning, learning, memory and language behavioural and emotional problems and difficulties with daily activities.
It is estimated that there are over 850,000 people with dementia in the UK. Its more likely to affect older people, but its not an inevitable part of growing old, and its different from the forgetfulness that often comes with ageing.
Unfortunately, theres no cure, and it gets worse over time.
It can be caused by many different conditions. The most common of these conditions and the one youve probably heard of is Alzheimers disease.
How Is Alzheimers Disease Different
When we say that a person has Alzheimers disease, were really saying that a person has dementia. This clinical syndrome is defined as experiencing mental impairment that is greater than expected for a person’s age in at least two domains of cognitive function. Ninety percent of the time, one of those domains is memorymost often, short-term memory. Other domains include language, the ability to do complex motor tasks, and the ability to reason and plan abstractly.
For a person with Alzheimers, symptoms are progressive and severe enough to cause impairment in daily function. In other words, if a CEO can no longer do his job because hes lost the ability reason abstractly or multitask, he is experiencing significant cognitive impairment.
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.
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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.
What Are The Symptoms Of Alzheimer’s And Dementia
Alzheimer’s disease and dementia share many of the same symptoms, including memory loss, a decline in cognitive function, and difficulty communicating. Still, there are distinct differences. For example, symptoms unique to Alzheimer’s include depression, apathy, distinct behavioral changes, and confusion. If your care recipient has dementia caused by Parkinson’s or Huntington’s disease, they might experience involuntary muscle spasms or limb movement. If they have vascular dementia, they might have trouble organizing their thoughts or staying focused.
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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.
Causes Of Progressive Dementia
Although researchers don’t completely understand what causes Alzheimer’s, they have found that people who have the disease also have clumps of protein in their brain, called plaques. There is also a protein, called tau, which becomes twisted and unable to function properly. Both the plaques and the damaged tau cause cell death, which results in dementia. Parkinson’s disease causes a different kind of dementia, brought on by having too much dopamine in the brain. Meanwhile, frontotemporal lobe dementia is caused by the degeneration of the brain cells. This can be caused by accumulation of tau, as with Alzheimer’s, or by the accumulation of another protein, called TDP-43.
When dementia is progressive, it usually only begins when the underlying disease has progressed significantly.
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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.
Establish A Daily Routine
As a dementia caregiver, it’s important to establish a daily routine. When there’s a structure in place that your loved one can rely on, they’re less likely to become aggressive, agitated, or confused. Try scheduling doctor’s visits and other appointments in the morning when your care recipient is well-rested and alert.
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Alzheimers And Dementia Treatment Options
Neither Dementia nor Alzheimers has a cure as of today. Medications and cognitive therapy can temporarily improve symptoms of both and can even prolong the inevitable however, these medications do not work on everyone. Cognitive therapy for Dementia patients can additionally help a patient learn to control his angry outbursts caused by frustration at being unable to remember or perform but a cure has not yet been found for either disease.
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.
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Outlook For People With Dementia
The outlook for patients suffering from dementia depends completely on the direct cause of dementia. The available treatments are used to make the symptoms of dementia manageable, but there is no sure-fire way of stopping the deterioration of the mind due to this disease.
Although vascular dementia can be slowed down in some cases, it can still shorten a patients lifespan. Some dementia variants are reversible, but most of them are irreversible and can cause physical and mental impairments, over time.
The Difference Between Dementia And Alzheimers
The term dementia is often used in place of Alzheimers and vice-versa, as though the two words have interchangeable meanings. This is not the case. Dementia is an umbrella term that covers any disease or symptom of cognitive decline. Its also important to note that dementia is a general term. It is not a diagnosis. So, even if someone is clearly experiencing difficulty with memory and/or other relevant symptoms, they cannot be diagnosed with dementia. Should a doctor determine a patient is suffering from a cognitive illness, an assessment and determination about the type of dementia will follow.
Alzheimers is just one specific manifestation of dementia. Its a potential diagnosis, but there are many other types of dementia that can be responsible for symptoms.
The difference between dementia and Alzheimers really comes down to specificity. Alzheimers is one form of dementia, but there are many others.
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Treating Alzheimers Disease Vs Other Types Of 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
Why We Need To Know The Difference
Armed with an accurate diagnosis, patients and their caregivers can better prepare for the long road aheadmaking decisions about care planning, ensuring a living will is in place, and reviewing finances.
Patients can also exercise, eat a healthy diet, and take DHA omega-3 fatty acids, which are all dementia prevention strategies with strong evidence of benefit. If they have diabetes, hypertension, or other medical risk factors for Alzheimers disease, they can more carefully manage these conditions. Moreover, they can volunteer for or donate to research to help us to find new drugs to prevent and treat Alzheimers diseaseif not for themselves, than for their children, grandchildren, and the 44 million other people currently diagnosed with the disease.
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Rem Sleep Behavior Disorder
LBD: People with LBD sometimes experience REM sleep behavior disorder, a dysfunction where they physically act out the situations in their dreams. Some research suggests that REM sleep behavior disorder can be one of the earlier predictors of LBD.
/6symptoms Of Alzheimer’s Disease
The symptoms of the disease appear long after the brain begins to damage. It is only diagnosed later when the symptoms become more prominent. Even then it is not possible to diagnose Alzheimers with complete accuracy while a person is alive.
Early signs and symptoms of this condition include:
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Encourage Your Care Recipient To Get Involved
Your family member might have difficulty remembering things, but that doesn’t mean they can’t stay busy. Have them select an outfit they’d like to wear or let them choose between two activities, like working a jigsaw puzzle or going to the park. If they’re able, you can even have them help you with small tasks, like taking out the trash or setting the table.
/6difference Between Dementia And Alzheimer’s
Dementia and Alzheimer’s are two terms often used interchangeably for mental health conditions linked with memory loss and lack of concentration. In reality, the two have contrasting meanings.
Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe myriad symptoms that can impact a person’s ability to perform everyday activities independently. Several mental conditions are categorised as dementia, and Alzheimers is one of them.
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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.
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 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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More Types Of Dementia
One important distinction to make when it comes to dementia and Alzheimer’s is that some types of dementia can be reversed, but dementia caused by Alzheimer’s is not one of them. Dementia can also be caused by heavy metal or pesticide poisoning, infections, endocrine imbalances , and even reactions to medications. These types of dementia can be reversible, but progressive dementias are not.
Alzheimers Vs Dementia What Is Alzheimers Disease
Alzheimers is a disease that typically strikes patients over the age of 65. Only 5 percent of the worlds population with Alzheimers is under the age of 65 and those people are in their 40s and 50s. This is a progressive disease it starts off slowly, perhaps even going unnoticed for months or years. Forgetfulness is a common symptom of Alzheimers a patient may begin forgetting small things such as the name of his street or the names of people he has known for years. Eventually, the disease worsens and memory loss becomes more prevalent. In late stage Alzheimers, patients become unable to carry on a conversation or remember anything from their lives. They will not recognize themselves in the mirror or even their own children. Life expectancy for an Alzheimers patient is approximately 8 years after their symptoms become noticeable to others, though each case is unique.
Symptoms Of Alzheimer’s Disease
In the early stages the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease can be very subtle. However, it often begins with lapses in memory and difficulty in finding the right words for everyday objects.
Other symptoms may include:
- Persistent and frequent memory difficulties, especially of recent events
- Vagueness in everyday conversation
- Apparent loss of enthusiasm for previously enjoyed activities
- Taking longer to do routine tasks
- Forgetting well-known people or places
- Inability to process questions and instructions
- Deterioration of social skills
- Emotional unpredictability
Symptoms vary and the disease progresses at a different pace according to the individual and the areas of the brain affected. A person’s abilities may fluctuate from day to day, or even within the one day, becoming worse in times of stress, fatigue or ill-health.
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.
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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 –