Dementia Vs. Alzheimer’s

Dementia Vs. Alzheimer’s

It seems that I keep hearing of more and more seniors who are diagnosed with Dementia or Alzheimer’s every year.  Recently a close friend of my mind called me and shared the news that her grandmother was recently diagnosed with beginning stages of Alzheimer’s.  She went on to say “the doctor said my grandma has Alzheimer’s, but is Dementia the same thing as Alzheimer’s?”.

Symptoms of Dementia

Good question a lot of people use the term Dementia and Alzheimer’s interchangeably.  All though both can have similar characteristics they are categorized differently.  First, Dementia is not a disease but a syndrome.  Someone who has the syndrome will appear to have problems with mental cognition in the areas of memory and reasoning.  Those who are affected by Dementia display episodes of forgetfulness, trouble keeping track of time, and lose direction in familiar settings.  As symptoms become more advanced an individual will have difficulty with recalling names and faces; personal hygiene, and poor decision-making.   It is not uncommon for some individuals to experience depression or aggression as symptoms continue to advance.  The World Health  organization reported that 47.5 million people live with dementia.

Where Did Dementia Come From?

Visible signs of Dementia will usually appear as we get older and when specific brain cells become damaged.  Most of the time it is not easy to pinpoint the root cause of where the dementia began to occur in a single person.  Various forms of dementia can be related to Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s disease.  The other causes include HIV, vascular disease, stroke, depression, and chronic drug use.  The direct cause of how the dementia initially began will harm specific set of cells in the brain.  Back in August a female women with Down Syndrome had retired from a McDonald’s in Massachusetts  that she worked at for 32 years, due to early onset of dementia symptoms.

Alzheimer’s Disease

While dementia is classified as a symptom that greatly impacts memory, Alzheimer’s is a disease that will progressively cause impairment to areas of the brain that are responsible for memory and cognitive functioning. About 50 to 70 percent of dementia cases are related to Alzheimer’s disease.  Signs of Alzheimer’s will usually appear after the age of 60.  The average life span for the disease can be 4 to 8 years after diagnosis.  Life expectancy for those in their 80’s diagnosed with Alzheimer’s can be as short as 3 years, others can live with the disease for 20 years.

According to the National Institutes of Health, there are more than 5 million people in the United States living with Alzheimer’s disease.

Damage That Alzheimer’s Does To The Brain

In nearly all cases a physician is able to diagnose whether a person has Alzheimer’s or not.  The only accurate way to find out if an individual had Alzheimer’s is to do an autopsy once the person dies.  Damage to the brain occurs years before the signs of Alzheimer’s appears.  An irregular protein deposit forms plaques and tangles itself in the brain.  Eventually, links between cells are lost and begin to die off.  In progressive cases the brain begins to shrink.

Treatment For Dementia and Alzheimer’s

There is no cure for Alzheimer’s or the symptoms of Dementia.  However, there are medications available prescribed by physicians that will help manage behaviors or symptoms.

If you or someone you know suspect any signs of Alzheimer’s or Dementia talk to your doctor right away to get proper treatment.