Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Differences Between Dementia and Alzheimer’s: What You Need to Know

Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are often thought of as the same thing. Although the symptoms of both conditions can appear similar, their underlying causes and treatment methods can be quite different. Alzheimer’s patients often exhibit dementia, but not all people who deal with dementia have Alzheimer’s disease.

The main difference between these two common conditions is that dementia is a group of symptoms, whereas Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease with a formal diagnosis. By contrast, dementia is a syndrome, meaning it is not a formal disease, but rather a set of symptoms that point to an underlying, separate cause.

Symptoms of Dementia
Some of the symptoms of dementia include:
  • Impaired language and communication
  • Memory loss
  • Foggy thinking

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s can include the symptoms of dementia listed above, as well as:
  • Behavioral changes
  • Short-term memory loss (inability to recall what was just said)
  • Disorientation
  • Depression and apathy
  • Progressive decline in ability to walk, speak, or care for oneself

Symptoms of Alzheimer's
Alzheimer’s is one of the biggest causes of dementia, but people affected by Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, stroke and vascular diseases, nutritional and metabolic disorders, or drug interactions may also exhibit dementia without having Alzheimer’s. Whereas Alzheimer’s causes a specific form of dementia, there are many types of dementia, caused by other forms of damage to different areas of the brain.

It is important to understand the difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s because treatment methods and the prognoses for the two conditions can vary. For cases of dementia, identifying the root cause determines the plan of treatment. Some forms of dementia can be alleviated by treating the root cause of the problem, especially in cases of metabolic disorders and drug effects. In cases of vascular disorders, prevention of further damage, such as future strokes, may prevent an escalation of dementia symptoms.

If the underlying cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, the focus becomes management of symptoms. Some treatment strategies include boosting brain function, using sleep and depression medications, and treating memory loss with pharmaceuticals. Those dealing with dementia and/or Alzheimer’s disease can benefit from supportive services and memory care.   

Located in North Riverside, Illinois, we at The Scottish Home understand the challenges and difficulties of memory loss, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease. For over 100 years, we have been providing personalized care to seniors. Our services include residential and respite care, as well as “Best in Class” memory support care at our brand-new Caledonia House. The Scottish Home is where friends become family. Contact us or visit our website to learn more about what makes our family of staff, residents, relatives, and community members so special.  

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