Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia – Is there a difference?
As we age our bodies start to slow down and so does the brain. We start to forget things and sometimes we encounter difficulty with being able to think in a coherent manner. Our cognitive abilities start to diminish. These are the common symptoms of Dementia, but they also bear a striking similarity to the symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease. Alzheimer’s has experienced a dramatic increase in the number of people who have been diagnosed with this condition in the past decade.
Dementia does not come under the heading of a disease, while Alzheimer’s is a disease that progressively worsens over time. Because of the overlap of symptoms, there is often confusion as to what the difference is between them. It is essential that you understand how Dementia is different from Alzheimer’s so that the proper diagnosis can be made as soon as possible and the proper treatment given.
It is thought that Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia. But, there are patients who have been diagnosed with dementia who do not have Alzheimer’s. In Alzheimer’s patients, the brain cells gradually die. A build-up of plague and protein in and around the brain cells is believed to be the cause of Alzheimer’s because these deposits interfere with the brain’s normal functioning. Thus, they die. Although the majority of people who have been diagnosed with this disease are usually in their senior years, there have been patients diagnosed who are much younger.
In Alzheimer’s Disease, the major functions of the brain that are affected are language, problem solving, memory, and attentiveness. As the brain continues to deteriorate, more serious problems develop and this is stressful for both the patient and the family. In the later stages of the disease, the lines of communication break down completely as the patient is unable to remember who people are and cannot recall important events in the family’s history. Confusion and a total loss of memory is very common.
Dementia is a group of symptoms that are associated with old age. Aging brings with it a loss of memory and reduced cognitive functioning. The loss of brain function is simultaneous. Old age can be one of the causes of dementia, but the same symptoms can be the result of brain injury, drug or alcohol abuse, an imbalance in vitamins and hormones or a disease that affects the brain.
There are general symptoms that are associated with dementia. These are:
- Loss of memory
- Personality changes
- Moodiness changing to euphoria
- Problems in speech
- Confusion over little things
- Difficulty in being able to carry out daily activities
It is when a patient has difficulty being able to function normally during the day and has difficulty dealing with this that he/she visits the doctor and is diagnosed as having dementia. It is possible to reverse dementia but the reversal depends on what triggered its onset. If it has been caused by Alzheimer’s, though, there is no cure. Dementia that is caused by Alzheimer’s is called SDAT, which means Senile Dementia of the Alzheimer’s Type.
- It is common for the brain faculties to begin to deteriorate with old age. When this deterioration reaches the point that it interferes with normal day-to-day functioning, the patient is assessed by a doctor and could be diagnosed with either Dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease. Dementia is not a disease, but Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease.
- Deposits of plague and protein in and around the brain cells is the cause of Alzheimer’s Disease.