Differences Between Alzheimer’s and Dementia

by Nancy Wurtzel

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Are There Differences Between Alzheimer’s and Dementia?

There is a lot of confusion surrounding the meaning and use of the terms Alzheimer’s and dementia.  Additionally, Alzheimer’s has become a dreaded word and many people opt to use dementia, which is considered a ‘softer’ word, instead.

Can Alzheimer’s and dementia be used interchangeably?  Is dementia simply a milder form of Alzheimer’s?  Can you have dementia and not have Alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer’s is a disease of the brain, which is always fatal.  More than 5.3 million Americans are living with it.  It is not the only disease of the brain and a few are listed below.

On the other hand, dementia is not a disease, but rather an overall, umbrella term used to describe a group of symptoms.  These symptoms are the result of a disease or other condition, such as Alzheimer’s.

Dementia is a Symptom, Alzheimer’s is a Disease

Alzheimer's, dementia, memory loss, cognitive loss, aging, elderly, the brainIn the most straightforward terms: Dementia is the symptom, Alzheimer’s is the cause of that symptom.

There are many types of dementia symptoms and they can vary from person-to-person.  Some of the more common symptoms are short-term memory loss, depression, irritability and mood changes, lack of coordination and motor skills, trouble with mobility, loss of communication skills, difficulty solving problems, repetitive behaviors and a change in sleep patterns.

Alzheimer’s, Most Common Form of Memory Loss

While Alzheimer’s is the culprit about 70 percent of the time, there are other diseases and conditions that can cause dementia symptoms.

These include dementia with Lewy Bodies, vascular dementia, fronto-temporal dementia, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and other conditions.  Although dementia symptoms vary between diagnosis, all of these diseases affect a person’s thinking, behavior and memory.

Understanding Different Forms of Memory Loss

Knowledge is power.  The more we know; the better we can communicate.  Use your knowledge and power to set the record straight about the myth that Alzheimer’s and dementia are one in the same.

You may start some conversations about this disease and who knows where it might lead?

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