There are many differences between dementia vs. Alzheimer’s. Surprisingly, many people believe these two diseases are the same thing. It is true that several symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s coincide, but understanding the main differences helps when establishing the right care, treatment and management for you or your loved ones.
Dementia vs. Alzheimer's Explained
To help explain, think of dementia as the umbrella term. Dementia is a term used to outline a decline in mental functionality that is severe enough to interfere with daily tasks in life. This includes basic communication, routine activities, and memory loss. On another note, Alzheimer’s is a brain disease which is the most common type of dementia. With Alzheimer’s, symptoms tend to gradually worsen over time. Let’s break down both dementia and Alzheimer’s to get a better understanding.
What Is Dementia?
Dementia is a syndrome rather than a disease which is a group of symptoms that doesn’t have a conclusive diagnosis. These symptoms affect mental cognitive tasks such as loss of memory, thinking skills and even basic reasoning. Think about all daily tasks and things someone would do independently for years. Someone with dementia could encounter these basic tasks or normal daily activities as a challenge.
Furthermore, it’s not uncommon for individuals to have more than one type of dementia. This is referred to as mixed dementia. Often, people with mixed dementia have multiple conditions that may contribute to dementia. Keep in mind, the only way to be diagnosed is through an autopsy.
Early symptoms of dementia can sometimes be overlooked as they tend to be subtle. Typically it begins with simple or small episodes of forgetfulness or memory loss. Things like mood changes, short-term memory changes, confusion, apathy, and failing sense of direction are a few signs of early dementia.
As dementia progresses throughout the 7 stages, forgetfulness and confusion grow with a moderate decline. Symptoms of dementia can include repetitious questioning, poor hygiene and poor decision-making, not being able to recall names or faces, and even not willing to branch out of comfort zones to try new things.
Late-stage dementia is about the time when people are unable to care for themselves and need assistance. Behavior begins to alter, problems with sleeping occur, getting lost or wandering, and increased aggression are just a few of the dementia symptoms one may face.
What Causes Dementia?
Many different types of dementia exist, and most importantly, many conditions can cause it including degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, just to name a few. Dementia is caused by damage to brain cells that affects the ability to communicate, which in turn can affect thinking, behavior patterns and feelings. It’s important to remember that you’re more likely to develop dementia as you age.
These aren’t the only causes of dementia, others include infections, vascular diseases, strokes, depression, and chronic drug use.
What Is Alzheimer's?
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease of the brain that slowly causes impairment in memory and cognitive function. Alzheimer’s disease falls under the dementia umbrella like we talked about earlier.
Alzheimer's Disease Symptoms
The most common early symptom of Alzheimer’s is trouble remembering new information because the disease typically impacts the part of the brain associated with learning first. As Alzheimer’s advances, symptoms get more severe and include disorientation, confusion and behavior changes. Over time, speaking, swallowing and walking become difficult. Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent, cure or even slow Alzheimer’s disease.
What Causes Alzheimer's?
Alzheimer’s is a degenerative brain disease that is caused by complex brain changes following cell damage. It leads to dementia symptoms that gradually worsen over time. Though the greatest known risk factor for Alzheimer’s is increasing age, the disease is not a normal part of aging.
Memory Care Programs at PARK Senior Villas
At Park Senior Villas, we have dedicated homes for our residents with Alzheimer’s, other types of dementia or other forms of memory loss. Our memory care program focuses on getting to know our residents and their histories as well as the details of their lives so we can help create the most pleasant environment possible for them as individuals. Our clinical team is dedicated to maintaining the dignity and individuality of every resident who has chosen to call Park Senior Villas home.
If you are looking for senior living care for you or your loved one, we are here to help. Reach out to us today to see what options are available.