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Alzheimer’s vs. Dementia

As our loved ones age, we all have questions about the two main memory loss issues they may face: Alzheimer’s vs. Dementia. There are a lot of questions surrounding the two. How are they similar? How do they differ? How do I know if my loved one has Alzheimer’s or dementia?  Here we will define what both mean and lay out the similarities and differences between Alzheimer’s and dementia. 

What is Dementia?

Dementia isn’t a specific disease; instead, it’s a collection of symptoms that are caused by different, underlying conditions. It is the decline in cognitive abilities that interferes with your loved one’s day-to-day life. Dementia symptoms include memory loss, impaired communication, disorientation, poor judgment, and changes in mood and behavior. There are several types of dementia, and Alzheimer’s is the most common cause.

What is Alzheimer’s? 

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. It accounts for a significant portion of dementia cases. Alzheimer’s is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder affecting memory, thinking, and behavior. 

What are the Underlying Causes of Alzheimer’s and Dementia?

Dementia is caused by different underlying conditions. These conditions can be because of Alzheimer’s disease, vascular issues, Lewy body disease, or frontotemporal dementia. 

Alzheimer’s Disease is a more specific disease. Vascular dementia is linked to reduced blood flow to the brain, while Lewy body dementia involves the accumulation of alpha-synuclein protein aggregates. All of this indicates that dementia can have varying causes. 

With Alzheimer’s, the accumulation of abnormal proteins like beta-amyloid plaques and tau tangles leads to the death of brain cells and the disruption of neural communication. 

What are the Symptoms of Alzheimer’s and Dementia?

With dementia, there is a wide scope of symptoms because the underlying conditions can vary. 

The symptoms of dementia include but are not limited to:

  • memory loss
  • confusion and disorientation
  • communication difficulties
  • impaired judgment
  • behavioral changes
  • difficulty with complex tasks
  • problems with abstract thinking
  • misplacing items
  • loss of initiative
  • trouble with familiar activities
  • difficulty recognizing faces
  • sleep disturbances
  • hallucinations and delusions
  • loss of motor skills

The symptoms of Alzheimer’s include but are not limited to:

  • progressive memory loss
  • difficulty with language
  • impaired judgment
  • confusion
  • changes in mood and behavior
  • difficulty with planning and problem-solving
  • difficulty completing tasks
  • misplacing items
  • language and communication issues, eventual loss of
  • personality and behavioral challenges
  • difficulty recognizing family and friends
  • hallucinations and delusions
  • sleep disturbances
  • wandering and restlessness
  • loss of communication and motor skills
  • unable to perform basic activities
  • weight loss and malnutrition

It’s important to remember that your loved one won’t have every symptom and the severity depends on the individual. If you suspect that your loved one has either Alzheimer’s or dementia, contact a medical professional for a diagnosis. Once there’s a diagnosis and you need help taking care of your loved one, we provide home care services and caregiving for elderly loved ones specializing in dementia care. Contact us and schedule an appointment for a free home care consultation

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