Saturday, July 8, 2017
Are Alzheimer's and Dementia the Same Thing?
Alzheimer’s disease is is a form of dementia. It’s the most common type and accounts for 60 – 80% of all dementia cases. However, not all dementia is caused by Alzheimer’s.
Dementia is an umbrella term for a collection of symptoms and isn’t a disease. It’s caused when the brain is damaged by diseases, like Alzheimer’s or small strokes. Aside from Alzheimer’s, there are 8 other types of dementia you might not have heard about.
The specific symptoms that someone with dementia experiences depends on the parts of the brain that are damaged and the disease that’s causing the dementia.
What is Alzheimer’s disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive brain disease. It causes problems with cognitive functions like memory, judgement, decision-making, and behavior. Symptoms are unpredictable, but usually develop slowly and worsen over time.
In the early stages, memory loss and other symptoms are usually mild. In later stages, people often have symptoms like problems with communication, complete dependence on others for care, loss of mobility, incontinence, problems eating, and unusual behaviors like repeating questions or asking to go “home.”
Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. As of now, there is no cure. Current treatments may reduce or delay symptoms, but typically work best in the early stages of the disease.
After symptoms become noticeable, the average Alzheimer’s patient usually lives another 8 years. But depending on age and other health conditions, patients could live from 4 to 20 years.
What is dementia?
Dementia is an overall term for a wide range of symptoms associated with a decline in memory and cognitive skills. It’s caused by physical changes in the brain that are usually triggered by disease, stroke, or injuries.
Alzheimer’s disease is the leading type of dementia. The second most common is vascular dementia which is often caused by stroke or transient ischemic attacks (TIAs or mini-strokes).
Other conditions can also cause symptoms of dementia. Some are reversible, like UTIs, delirium, thyroid problems, or vitamin deficiencies. Others, like Parkinson’s disease, are not reversible.
What is the Difference Between Alzheimer's and Dementia?