What is the difference between Dementia and Alzheimer’s?

Dementia vs. Alzheimer’s Disease

Perhaps the easiest way to think about the differences between dementia and Alzheimer’s disease is to think of dementia as not a specific disease but as an umbrella term for a group of symptoms related to the loss of cognitive functioning of the brain. Alzheimer’s disease is a specific disease related to memory loss and cognitive impairment and while it is the leading cause of dementia symptoms, it is not the only condition resulting in these symptoms.

Signs and symptoms of dementia

As we’ve said, dementia is a collection of symptoms involving brain activity and cognitive issues. Some common early signs of dementia include memory loss, difficulty carrying out simple daily tasks, difficulty following along in a conversation – repeating themselves often, mood changes, difficulty following directions, or getting lost – especially out of their neighborhood. These symptoms may get progressively worse over time.
 
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Signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s Disease symptoms often mirror the symptoms of dementia but are specifically caused by plaques forming in the blood vessels of the brain.. Alzheimer’s disease symptoms include memory loss that affects daily functioning, challenges in problem-solving, confusion with time and place. There may be trouble understanding visual images and spatial directions, problems with words in speaking or writing, or withdrawal from social activities.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s treatment

If you recognize any of the above symptoms in your loved ones, speaking to a medical professional is important. Some dementia symptoms can be affected by medical conditions and properly addressing them can slow down or alleviate some of the symptoms. While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, again, early treatment, medications and other therapies can help to slow down the progression of the disease.

Two classifications of medication have been used to lessen the symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease by helping the brain’s cells communicate with each other. They are cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine. Ask your physician for more information about both medications to see if they are right for your loved one.

Other non-medical treatments can help loved ones manage their symptoms. Occupational therapy can be used to learn coping strategies. Modifications to the home can be made that will help to keep the home environment safer and simpler to manage. Therapies that help the senior focus on what they can do, rather than can’t help to maintain self-esteem while going through these challenges.
 
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Outlook for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease

The outlook for any person with a dementia condition will depend on what is causing the dementia symptoms. At this point, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease and it is considered a progressive, terminal disease. However, with treatments and management of conditions surrounding your loved one, the progression may be slowed.

Other dementia conditions may also be slowed down by proper treatments and medication. However, it is important to understand that most types are irreversible and will most likely get progressively difficult. Early detection and proper treatments can help the progression and outcome of Alzheimer’s and other dementias tremendously, underlining the need for family members to talk with their loved ones and their physician as soon as symptoms are noticed.

 
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