Tips & How-Tos

What's the Difference Between Dementia & Alzheimer's Disease?

Friday, June 19, 2015
GIrl helping her grandmother walk.

Many people often confuse the terms Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Although they are used interchangeably, there are distinct differences between them. Read about the differences between Alzheimer's disease and dementia.

What Is Dementia?

Dementia is not a disease, but a group of symptoms that are associated with a decline in thinking, reasoning, and/or remembering. If someone has dementia, they may have difficulty carrying out daily tasks they have performed routinely and independently throughout their lives.

The two most common types of dementia are:

  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Vascular dementia, which is the hardening of the arteries in the brain that causes blockage in blood flow.

These two conditions account for the vast majority of dementia cases. Both conditions are irreversible, although sometimes their symptoms can be managed.

What Is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, and this terminal, progressive brain disorder has no known cause or cure. It slowly steals the minds of its victims, leading to memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, personality changes, disorientation and the inability to communicate. Dementia usually occurs in the mid to later stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

To find out what is causing dementia symptoms, you need to undergo a thorough check-up with your doctor in order to determine what exactly is causing these symptoms. The check up may include:

  • blood tests
  • mental health evaluations
  • brain scans (only in some cases)

Doctors often can accurately diagnose the dementia symptoms in 90 percent of cases. If you know someone who appears to be losing mental abilities to a degree that interferes with daily activities and social interactions, consult a doctor right away. There are some medications and treatments that may help manage some of the symptoms, so it’s important to seek help as soon as possible.

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