Many people are confused about the differences between Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, as both are related to memory disorders and age-related memory loss.
Many people believe the two mean the same thing – they’re often assumed to be synonymous. However, the two words mean two different things.
Dementia is a general term for the progressive decline or cognitive impairment in one’s memory and mental ability, severe enough to interfere with their daily lives. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia. Alzheimer’s is a specific disease, whereas dementia is not, and is more of an umbrella term for any memory problems and cognitive impairment.
In this article, we will cover the difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia, as knowing the difference between these two things is vitally important for individuals who have Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, and their families, loved ones, and caregivers.
What is Dementia?
As previously mentioned, dementia is the name for a group of brain disorders that affect the cognitive function and ability to think and remember things, control one’s emotions, and make sound decisions.
If you forgot that new coworker’s name or where you parked at the mall, you don’t have dementia.
Alzheimer’s disease is just one of the many disorders that fall under the “dementia” category. There are several other types of cognitive problems that fall under the heading of dementia. These include progressive dementia, Parkinson’s disease, vascular dementia, Huntington’s disease, frontotemporal dementia, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, multi-infarct dementia, Pick’s disease, and Lewy body dementia, among others.
A person with dementia would have a hard time with at least two of the following:
- Clear Communication and Speech
- Memory Impairment
- Concentration and Focus
- Judgment or Reasoning Skills
- Visual Perception (may see things which are not there, a difficult time seeing various colors, etc.)
Many patients with dementia experience a progressive decline in their ability to perform the above list of items. Generally speaking, dementia-like symptoms worsen over time as forgetfulness increases, and their alertness to their environment begins to fade.
Here are some Examples of Signs and Symptoms of Dementia:
- Short-term or long-term memory loss
- Issues with keeping track of a wallet or purse
- Memory lapses when it comes to paying bills
- Preparing and planning meals at random
- Difficulty with activities of daily living, like hygiene or bathing
- A decline in problem-solving skills
- Forgetting doctor’s appointments or other obligations
- Wandering out of the neighborhood (Wandering is likely a sign of Alzheimer’s diseases
What Causes Dementia?
Our brain has several distinct regions, each of which is responsible for a variety of different functions. For example, some areas of the brain are in charge of our memory, others our physical movement, etc.