Not many people understand the actual differences between dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. They usually just associate both disorders with memory loss.
However, there are a few ways in which you can distinguish between the two. We will be discussing what dementia and Alzheimer’s are, their symptoms, causes, and treatments.
What Is Dementia?
Dementia is a term used by medical professionals to describe various symptoms that impact memory, personality, and performance. This being said dementia is not one particular disease. However, it does affect everyday life, reducing a person’s independence.
There are many different types of dementia, and many different conditions or diseases can cause it. In fact, Alzheimer’s is one of the diseases that can lead to dementia; it accounts for a massive 60–80% of cases.
Your risk of developing dementia increases with age, and while young people can suffer from the condition, most cases only occur in patients over the age of 65.
It is important to note that this condition is not a normal part of aging. If you suspect that you or someone you know has dementia, you should visit a medical professional as soon as possible.
How Common Is Dementia?
Dementia is a condition that mainly affects the elderly. In fact, almost 100% of cases occur among people over the age of 65.
Statistics have recently shown that around 50 million people are living with dementia worldwide. There are also roughly 10 million new cases every single year.
After you reach the age of 65, your chances of developing dementia double every five years that pass. Everyone in fourteen people over the age of 65 has this syndrome. Additionally, every one in six people over the age of 80 have it.
How Common Is Alzheimer’s Disease?
As with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease mainly affects people over the age of 65. Your risk of contracting the disease increases with age.
Young-onset Alzheimer’s is very rare. It occurs when a person under the age of 65 is diagnosed with the disease. Statistics show that around 4% of Alzheimer’s patients begin showing symptoms before the age of 65.
It is estimated that 44 million people around the world have Alzheimer’s. There are also about 500,000 new cases every single year. With this being said, doctors and scientists believe that only one in every four cases is ever diagnosed.
What Is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative brain disease caused by complex brain changes. These changes usually occur after cell damage.
This condition can lead to dementia-like symptoms that worsen over time. The first sign of this disorder is trouble remembering new information. This is because Alzheimer’s attacks the part of the brain that is used for learning new things.
After many years, the person will become disoriented, and confused, and undergo personality changes. They will eventually struggle to do basic activities, such as walking or speaking.
As with dementia, Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging. It is also most common in people over the age of 65.
Progression Of Dementia
Many symptoms of Dementia overlap with those of Alzheimer’s disease.
The early signs of the syndrome are easy to overlook. This is because people often confuse them with forgetfulness or normal, aging mental deterioration.
The first symptom of dementia is forgetfulness; people often lose track of time, misplace their belongings, or lose their way in familiar places.
As the condition progresses, this forgetfulness increases. They will begin to struggle with remembering names and faces. More obvious symptoms include poor decision-making and constant confusion.
In the final stages, people will become unable to care for themselves. They could even forget their family and friends, which is frustrating for both the patient and their loved ones. This frustration can often turn into aggression or depression.
Progression Of Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease generally progresses quite slowly. It affects each person differently, meaning that the rate of progression and symptoms that people experience may vary.
On average, a person with the disease lives for four to eight years after being diagnosed. However, some patients have lived for twenty years after the initial diagnosis.
The changes that occur in the brain start happening long before any symptoms show up. In the early stages, the person can still function independently, even though they may begin to forget simple things, such as certain words or places. However, on the whole, symptoms will be hard to recognize.
The middle stage of Alzheimer’s disease is the longest, and the symptoms will start resembling dementia. The person will begin confusing words, forgetting more apparent details, and undergoing a personality change. They may even start to make poor decisions, such as refusing to shower.
The final stages of Alzheimer’s are much more severe. The person will begin struggling to communicate and move on their own. They will still be able to say a few phrases or sentences, but talking will become very difficult for them.
Significant personality changes will also take place; the person might become very aggressive or angry. Intensive, everyday care is often required.
Causes Of Dementia
There are various causes of dementia. Some people develop the condition from cognitive impairment related to other diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, or Huntington’s disease. Other people develop dementia following vascular cognitive impairment. It can also be caused by brain damage.
It is important to note that either injury or disease always causes the syndrome; this leads to the destruction of brain cells, which ultimately causes dementia.
Common causes of the disorder include:
● Alzheimer’s disease
● Vascular cognitive impairment
● Parkinson’s disease
● Huntington’s disease
● Traumatic brain injury
● Dementia with Lewy bodies
● Frontotemporal Dementia
Causes Of Alzheimer’s Disease
Scientists believe that Alzheimer’s disease is caused by genetic, lifestyle, and environmental factors that affect the brain.
With this being said, the exact causes of Alzheimer’s disease are not yet recognized. It is assumed that the problem originates because of brain proteins that do not function properly. This disrupts the working of brain cells and leads to the damage of neurons.
Symptoms Of Dementia Vs Symptoms Of Alzheimer’s Disease
Many people confuse the symptoms of the two conditions. While they can sometimes overlap, there are some differences.
Both conditions can cause:
● Memory problems
● Communication problems
● A declining ability to think and concentrate
Symptoms that are unique to dementia include:
● Increasing confusion
● Personality and behavior changes
● Withdrawal or depression
● Loss of ability to do everyday tasks
Symptoms that are unique to Alzheimer’s disease:
● Difficulty remembering recent events
● Impaired judgment
● Difficulty speaking, walking, and swallowing
As you can see, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease have relatively similar symptoms. If you experience any of the problems mentioned above, it might be a good idea to visit your doctor.
Certain behaviors, activities, health conditions, and diseases are known to increase your risk of developing dementia. These include:
● High cholesterol
● Mild cognitive impairment
● Alcohol abuse
● High levels of homocysteine in the blood
Dementia is very difficult to prevent as the cause is often only discovered once it is too late. However, there are a few ways to improve your overall health and reduce your chances of developing this syndrome:
● Maintain a healthy weight
● Exercise often
● Stop smoking
● Eat healthy food
● Manage your health problems, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol
● Stay socially active
● Do activities that will keep your mind busy, such as building a puzzle, reading, or learning new hobbies
Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease
As mentioned, the exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease is unknown, which makes it very difficult to prevent the condition. However, staying healthy may reduce your chances of developing the disease.
There are various ways in which you can improve your overall health:
● Stop smoking
● Stop drinking too much alcohol
● Maintain a healthy diet that includes fruit and vegetables
● Exercise frequently (at least 150 minutes every week)
● Manage your health condition, such as diabetes and high blood pressure
Treating Dementia Vs Treating Alzheimer’s Disease
Treatment for Dementia depends on the cause of the syndrome.
Thereis no cure for Alzheimer’s. In fact, there is no way to prevent or even slow down the disease. However, there are a few options that you use to manage the symptoms. These treatments include:
● Antipsychotics and other medications for behavioral changes
● Medications for memory loss, such as cholinesterase inhibitors
● Remedies that can boost brain function and overall health
● Medication for sleep changes
Various causes can lead to Dementia, such as taking drugs, tumors, metabolic changes, and hypoglycemia. In these cases, some treatments will help your condition. These treatments include:
● Cholinesterase inhibitors
● Cognition-enhancing medication
However, even though many forms are treatable, Dementia is mostly irreversible. The cause of your condition will decide whether or not you will respond to certain treatments.
Dementia is a term used by medical professionals to describe various symptoms that impact memory, personality, and performance. Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative brain disease caused by complex brain changes. Many people do not know that Alzheimer’s disease can actually lead to the development of Dementia.
Although there are a few similarities, the two conditions are different. For example, Dementia can be caused by a variety of diseases and health problems, such as HIV and brain damage. The cause of Alzheimer’s disease still remains unknown.
The symptoms of the two conditions can be similar, which is why many people confuse Dementia and Alzheimer’s. Various treatments can be given to try to ease the symptoms of Dementia, but there is no cure for Alzheimer’s.