People often use dementia and Alzheimer’s disease interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. Here are the major differences between dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s Is a Disease, Dementia Isn’t
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that slowly impairs memory and cognitive function. It’s estimated that more than five million people in the U.S. have Alzheimer’s disease. Symptoms generally begin to develop around age 60, although younger people have been known to get Alzheimer’s.
Dementia is a group of symptoms that interfere with daily living, affecting mental tasks like memory and reasoning. Dementia can be caused by a variety of conditions, the most common being Alzheimer’s disease. As dementia progresses, it can have a devastating affect on the ability to function independently.
Alzheimer’s Isn’t Always the Cause of Dementia
Although Alzheimer’s disease accounts for around 60 to 70 percent of dementia cases, there are other disorders that cause dementia, including vascular dementia, Parkinson’s disease, dementia with Lewy Bodies, and frontotemporal dementia.
It’s almost impossible to diagnosis Alzheimer’s with accuracy while a person is still alive. Diagnosis can only be confirmed in an autopsy, when the brain is examined under a microscope. However, specialists are able to make a correct diagnosis up to 90 percent of the time.
Some Forms of Dementia Are Reversible
The last major difference between the two is that Alzheimer’s is currently a degenerative and irreversible disease, but some forms of dementia are reversible or temporary. In some cases, treating the condition that causes dementia is key. Conditions that are most likely to respond to treatment include dementia caused by drugs, tumors, metabolic disorders, and hypoglycemia.
With Alzheimer’s, damage to the brain begins years before symptoms develop. In an Alzheimer’s patient, abnormal protein deposits form plaques and tangles in the brain. This results in connections between cells becoming lost and dying.
If your senior loved one is showing signs of memory impairment and you’re worried about his or her safety at home, turn to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of reliable dementia and Alzheimer’s care New Hampshire families trust. Our caregivers can provide around-the-clock safety monitoring, transportation assistance, and mobility support, in addition to helping with everyday tasks like cooking, cleaning, and personal grooming. For more information, please call a dedicated Care Manager at (603) 471-3004.