Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are different. We’ll share the main differences, symptoms of each, and resources available to you and your family.
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disease of the brain that slowly causes impairment in memory and cognitive function and affects memory, language and thought. While dementia is a syndrome, not a disease, it is also an umbrella term that is used to describe a group of symptoms that affect mental cognitive tasks such as memory and reasoning. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, responsible for approximately 50 to 70 percent of all cases of dementia, but there are over 50 types of dementia. It is estimated that 5 to 8 percent of adults over 65 have some form of dementia, and as many as half of people in their 80s. While some cognitive decline is age-related, neither is considered a part of normal aging.
There are many causes of dementia including degenerative neurological diseases such as; Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease. Additionally, vascular disorders, traumatic brain injuries, central nervous system infections, long-time alcohol or drug use may cause dementia. In most cases dementia is not reversible, but many forms are treatable. There is no known cause or cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but there are some options to help manage the symptoms.
While the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia can overlap, there can be some differences. Both conditions may cause a decline in the ability to think, impaired memory, and a difficulty with communication. Alzheimer’s disease symptoms may include; difficulty remembering recent events, depression, impaired judgment, confusion, lack of personal hygiene and behavioral changes.
If you think you or a loved one is exhibiting symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, be sure to schedule an appointment with your doctor immediately. The earlier it’s detected and diagnosed, the sooner treatment can begin. There are many resources available to those diagnosed, as well as their families. Information and support can be found online at the Alzheimer’s Association, www.alz.org, and includes a 24/7 helpline.