The DifferenceBetween Alzheimer’s and Dementia (And What It Means for Your Loved One)
Although Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are terms that are used interchangeably, they aren’t the same. Specifically, Alzheimer’s in only a type of dementia. It is, however, the most prevalent type accounting for 60 to 80 percent of cases, not to mention more than 6 million Americans are currently living with it, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Learn more about the difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia and what it means for your loved one.
The Facts on Dementia
Dementia is not a disease in and of itself; it’s an umbrella term for loss of memory and other thinking abilities severe enough to interfere with daily life. Dementia is actually caused by damage to brain cells with different types affecting different parts of the brain. The types of dementia include:
In addition, there are a range of conditions that can cause symptoms of dementia. While many types of dementia are progressive, starting slowly and getting worse over time, some can be reversed or improved such as those caused by thyroid problems and vitamin deficiencies making early diagnosis vital.
Differences Between Alzheimer’s and Dementia
While dementia encompasses a group of symptoms associated with memory loss, Alzheimer’s is a specific brain disease. According to the Alzheimer’sAssociation, “in Alzheimer's disease, high levels of certain proteins inside and outside brain cells make it hard for brain cells to stay healthy and to communicate with each other. The brain region called the hippocampus is the center of learning and memory in the brain, and the brain cells in this region are often the first to be damaged. That's why memory loss is often one of the earliest symptoms of Alzheimer's.”
Alzheimer’s disease is progressive (although the rate ofdecline varies by person), typically affects those over the age of 65, and has three general stages:
Diagnosing the Difference Between Alzheimer’s and Dementia
There’s no one test that diagnoses dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. It’s based on medical history, physical and neurological exams, lab tests, brain imaging and the signs your loved one exhibits. While dementia itself can be clearly determined, the specific type may not be with a high level of certainty because some symptoms and parts of the brain affected can overlap. Dementia treatment typically depends on the cause. Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. But treatments to slow symptoms and improve quality of life are available.
Caring for Your Loved One with Dementia
If and when your loved one needs care outside the home, memory care can benefit them greatly. This type of senior living is specifically for those with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia and offers individualized support in a secure, yet comfortable environment. Our PEAK memory program is designed to engage your loved one where they are today while enhancing their overall wellness – mind, body, and spirit. The benefits of PEAK memory care include:
For more information on memory care at GenCare Lifestyle, contact a community near you, or schedule a tour today!
We can help you navigate the process and find the perfect community for you or your loved one.