How Is Dementia Different from Alzheimer’s?

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Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are two terms that are often used interchangeably. Though it’s true there are many similarities between the two conditions, they also have quite a few differences. Being able to understand how Alzheimer’s and dementia are separate may make it easier for you to discuss and manage senior mental health disorders. Here are some of the key distinctions between dementia and Alzheimer’s.

The Medical Definitions of Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease

Knowing a little about the medical terminology for these two health conditions can make the differences between them clearer. Dementia is simply a medical symptom characterized by a decrease in memory or cognitive function, while Alzheimer’s is its own distinct disease with a whole range of symptoms. All people with Alzheimer’s disease eventually have dementia, but not all people with dementia have Alzheimer’s. 

Make sure to have your loved one see the doctor if you notice possible signs of dementia. If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of elder care Richmond, VA, families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

Physical Differences Between Alzheimer’s and Dementia

People with Alzheimer’s disease experience some unique physical effects that aren’t present in other types of dementia. A hallmark symptom of Alzheimer’s is something called amyloid plaques. These are sticky clumps of beta-amyloid proteins that form in the brain between nerve cells, making it impossible for the brain to function normally. Beta-amyloid plaques can often be detected with certain types of blood tests. Other types of dementia don’t involve amyloid plaques. Instead, the brain may just reduce in overall volume, or more obvious signs of damage may be present. For example, a person with dementia may have a portion of his or her brain that is completely nonfunctional because of a stroke or other issue. 

If your loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, help is just a phone call away. For reliable Alzheimer’s care, Richmond families can turn to Home Care Assistance. We are a leading provider of professional memory care designed to help seniors maintain a higher quality of life. In addition to Alzheimer’s care, we also provide comprehensive dementia, Parkinson’s, and stroke care. From revolutionary care programs to compassionate and dedicated caregivers, we can meet all of your Alzheimer’s home care needs.

Underlying Causes of Dementia Can Vary

So far, the precise cause of Alzheimer’s isn’t understood, but it may be linked to some blend of genetic, lifestyle, and environmental factors. The causes of many types of dementia are more defined. Dementia may be due to some sort of injury (such as a stroke), a tumor, or a traumatic brain injury. It can also be caused by diseases such as Alzheimer’s, HIV infections, cerebrovascular disease, diabetes, or prion diseases. In some rare cases, dementia may be caused by issues such as vitamin deficiencies, alcohol or drug abuse, medications, depression, or thyroid problems.

The Eventual Outlook for Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that is eventually fatal. It starts out as mild cognitive impairment and gradually worsens until the person living with the disease eventually passes away. The outlook for other types of dementia is significantly more variable. In cases in which the dementia is due to something like a medication side effect or a vitamin deficiency, treating the cause may reverse the dementia. Other types of dementia may not be curable, but they may not progress, either. Seniors may remain at their current level of dementia for several years.

If your loved one has dementia or Alzheimer’s, compassionate professional help is available. Caring for a senior loved one can be challenging for families who don’t have expertise or professional training in home care, but this challenge doesn’t have to be faced alone. Family caregivers can turn to Richmond Home Care Assistance for the help they need. We provide high-quality live-in and respite care as well as comprehensive Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care. If your loved one needs professional care, Home Care Assistance is here to help. Call one of our dedicated Care Managers today at Richmond (804) 741-0009 or Williamsburg (757) 220-3151 to learn about the high quality of our in-home care services.