There are many terms used interchangeably in our everyday vocabulary that aren’t correct synonyms. One we hear often is the use of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
The simplest way to explain the differences between dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, or rather the relationship between the two words is: dementia is a syndrome, and an umbrella term; Alzheimer’s is a specific disease and falls under the umbrella of dementia.
Why is dementia a syndrome and not a disease? A syndrome is a group of symptoms that doesn’t have a definitive diagnosis. The symptoms of dementia affect mental tasks such as memory and reasoning. Many different types of dementia exist, and many conditions may cause it.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for 60-80% of dementia cases. It is a degenerative brain disease that is caused by complex brain changes following cell damage. It leads to dementia symptoms that gradually worsen over time.
The symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia can overlap, but there can be some differences.
Symptoms of both:
- a decline in the ability to think
- memory impairment
- communication impairment
Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease include:
- difficulty remembering recent events or conversations
- impaired judgment
- behavioral changes
- difficulty speaking, swallowing, or walking in advanced stages of the disease
It’s easy to overlook the early symptoms of dementia, which can be mild. Some symptoms include (by progression):
- simple episodes of forgetfulness
- trouble keeping track of time and tend to lose their way in familiar settings
- becomes harder to recall names and faces
- personal care becomes a problem
Other than increasing age, there are not any other factors that can make a person at risk to developing dementia. It is not a normal or expected part of aging. Although many develop Alzheimer’s disease after 65 years of age, there are Americans under 65 with ‘younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease.’
For dementia, sometimes treating the condition that causes dementia may help. The right medication can help manage the syndrome and offer better quality of life. Treatments for dementia will depend on the cause.
Unfortunately, there is not a cure for Alzheimer’s, but there are options to help manage symptoms, which is something Hosparus Health may be able to provide.
Hosparus Health is experienced in helping patients and their families with dementia and Alzheimer’s as they progress. If you or a loved one could benefit from our care, please call us at 800-264-0521. We also encourage you to visit the Alzheimer’s Association website to learn more.
Information contained in this blog should not be considered medical advice.