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Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease: What Are They and How Are They Different?

Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease: What Are They and How Are They Different?   Most of us have heard about or know the term dementia or Alzheimer’s disease—you may have seen ads for memory loss medications or a movie character may have it. Unfortunately, unless you know someone personally diagnosed with any of the conditions, your associations may involve negative images and feelings.   However, what is depicted in the media rarely reflects what it is like to have any of these conditions and actually often adds to the stigma of having dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.   To help prevent these misconceptions, we should begin with recognizing that dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are two different diseases, they only have overlapping symptoms.   Making the distinction between the two terms means greater understanding and is key to ensuring more effective management and treatment of the conditions.   That is why, as an adult daytime center in Forest, Virginia offering nursing services and healthcare training to patients with dementia, we are providing a briefer on the differences between dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in terms of symptoms, treatment, and outlook.   To begin, what are dementia and Alzheimer’s disease?   Dementia is an umbrella term for symptoms that are characterized by the impaired ability to remember, think, communicate, or make decisions that impact day-to-day activities. Among the many different types of dementia include vascular dementia, Huntington’s disease, Lewy body dementia, and Parkinson’s disease dementia, among others.   Among these, Alzheimer’s disease is its most common type of dementia, accounting for about 60-80% of dementia cases.   As such, symptoms-wise, both conditions can cause impaired memory and communication and a decline in the ability to think.   However, Alzheimer’s disease goes to manifest the following specifics:  
  • Impaired judgment
  • Disorientation
  • Confusion and/or difficulty remembering recent events or conversations
  • Apathy
  • Depression
  • Behavioral changes
  • Difficulty speaking, swallowing, or walking in advanced stages of the disease
  These differences in symptoms mean differences in treatment options, too. For dementia, the treatment involves targeting the condition that causes dementia such as hypoglycemia or metabolic disorders. For Alzheimer’s disease, the treatment involves managing the symptoms of the disease, for instance, through adult day services in Virginia, since there is no cure available for the condition.   Following these, those with dementia can expect the outlook of their condition to be dependent on their direct cause. On the other hand, those with Alzheimer’s disease, considering there is still no cure for the condition, will have an average of another 4-8 years.   To be clear, both these are not a regular part of aging. Many older adults live through their golden years without developing either dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. That said, increasing age remains the strongest known risk factor for dementia such that it is most common in senior adults. Moreover, per the Alzheimer’s Association, 12.7 million people age 65 and older are projected to have Alzheimer’s by 2050.   We hope we’ve helped you have a better understanding of the terms. For more like these, be sure to check back next time. Raspberry Hill Adult Daytime Center is your partner in health, providing nursing services and healthcare training classes in Lynchburg, Virginia.
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