What is the difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s? For those who know nothing about either condition, this is a common question and it is not unusual for either term to be used when describing an elderly person suffering from mental confusion, but there is in fact a difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Dementia is the umbrella term for a progressive disease of the brain caused by a range of different conditions. Common symptoms include memory loss, personality changes, physical impairment, and many other things. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, which is why many people tend to refer to someone suffering from dementia as having Alzheimer’s.
But whilst Alzheimer’s is the main cause of dementia related symptoms in the over 65 age group, there are many other causes of dementia, some of which affect people in younger age groups, even children. Other causes of dementia related symptoms include strokes, hereditary disorders such as Huntington’s disease, Pick’s disease, brain injuries, and several other rare disorders.
In both cases, dementia is caused by damage to the nerve cells in various sections of the brain and the symptoms experienced will depend on which area of the brain is affected. The temporary interruption in blood supply to the brain during a stroke can cause dementia symptoms, but in the case of a condition such as Pick’s disease, the damage is caused by defective genes.
What is the difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s symptoms?
There is no real difference between dementia and Alzheimer symptoms in those affected. All cases of dementia are characterized by a range of distressing symptoms that become progressively worse over time. In the early stages, symptoms will depend on the type of dementia affecting the sufferer: in Alzheimer’s disease early signs are usually memory problems whereas in Pick’s disease, speech problems tend to be the first indicator.
In the later stages of all types of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, symptoms include confusion, anxiety, depression, behavioral problems, personality changes, loss of interest in life, an inability to manage everyday tasks, forgetfulness, plus a host of other problems. But whilst the disease is incurable, it rarely kills the victim. Death is usually as a result of another health problem and dementia sufferers can very often live for many years after the initial diagnosis.
The difference between Alzheimer and dementia cases can usually only be detected via a physical examination and brain scans. In people over the age of 65, invariably Alzheimer’s is the cause of dementia related problems, but in younger people, this is not necessarily the case and further examination will probably take place to establish the cause of the symptoms.
In all cases of dementia, an early diagnosis is very important to establish the underlying cause of the disease. There are various drug treatments available that can help to alleviate some of the symptoms and timely intervention can help the dementia patient maintain a good quality of life for as long as possible, although in the long term, the patient will require a great deal of care.