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What is the Difference Between Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease?

What is the Difference Between Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease?

Key Takeaways

  • Dementia is not a disease; it is a group of symptoms.
  • Alzheimer's is a disease and is one of the commonest causes of dementia.
  • Other causes of dementia include drugs, vascular problems and metabolic diseases.

Most people think that Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are the same thing and use the names interchangeably. However, it is important that you know that they both are not the same. Even though the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease increases with aging, it is not a normal part of aging.

Dementia is not a disease; it is a set of symptoms which includes memory loss especially for recent events along with other symptoms, such as problems with reasoning, language, or other cognitive defects.

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Dementia is a group of symptoms and the cause cannot be indicated, whereas Alzheimer’s disease is one of the leading causes of dementia. This also means that there could be several other causes that could give rise to dementia other than Alzheimer’s disease, such as vascular problems and persistently increased blood pressure, which damage the brain.

What are the signs of dementia?

Dementia often begins with simple forgetfulness of simple things, like a name or a phone number, which is often ignored. However, as dementia progresses, forgetfulness increases and as a result of this, and the individual tends to become more and more confused. With time, the individual tends to forget names and identify close relatives and friends. This will also affect the individual's ability to make decisions. In the later stages of dementia, the individual fails to take care of himself or herself, everything becomes more and more confusing, and even his or her behavior may change.

Alzheimer’s disease

Dementia is just a set of symptoms, whereas Alzheimer’s disease is a disease. It is a progressive disease that affects the memory and cognitive abilities of a person. The exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease is not known.

In Alzheimer’s disease, there is ongoing damage to the brain, which takes place years and years before the symptoms appear. Abnormal proteins are deposited in an Alzheimer’s brain and with time, the connections between the cells of the brain are lost. In the very later stages of the disease, the brain begins to shrink.

It is hard to reach a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. A 100% accurate diagnosis can be made only after death during an autopsy, where the brain tissue will be viewed under a microscope. However, using modern technology, specialists are able to make a 90% accurate diagnosis. Alzheimer’s disease is diagnosed clinically by excluding all the other possible causes of the symptoms.

Can you treat dementia?

As you now know dementia can be caused by several other factors, apart from Alzheimer’s disease. Some of these causes can be treated; therefore, in those cases, the dementia will also be treated. For instance, in cases where dementia is caused by drugs, tumors, or metabolic conditions, it can be easily treated.

Up until now there has been no cure found for Alzheimer’s disease. There is medication available to reduce the symptoms to some mild amount but there is no medication available to reverse the symptoms or halt the process. Therefore, it is important that all patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease knows that the symptoms will continue to worsen with time.