These terms are regularly used interchangeably, but their meanings are actually not the same. Dementia isn’t a disease in particular. It is an umbrella term used to describe an array of symptoms. The symptoms affect the ability to carry out regular activities.
With dementia being a general term, this isn’t the case for Alzheimer’s, as it is a specific brain disease. It comes with dementia symptoms that get worse in the long run. Alzheimer’s initially affects the aspect of the brain used for learning. This is the reason why early symptoms usually include changes in thinking and reasoning skills. These symptoms will become more severe as the disease gets worse.
What is Dementia?
If a person is diagnosed with dementia, they also need to learn the kind of dementia that was diagnosed. However, this doesn’t always happen since dementia is commonly used to distinguish symptoms. These symptoms may include language or concentration difficulties and memory loss. When this happens, the best thing will be to set up a nursing care plan for dementia with a specialist.
Dementia is as a result of diseases that damage the brain through the loss of a handful of nerve cells. Alzheimer’s is one of the specific causes of dementia. Some of the other causes include:
- Vascular dementia: This is where limited oxygen in the brain leads to the death of some nerve cells. This can happen as a result of a stroke, multiple mini-strokes, or disease of the brain’s blood vessels.
- Mixed dementia occurs when a person has multiple types of dementia with varying symptoms.
- Dementia with Lewy bodies: This is where abnormal structures (also known as Lewy bodies) are formed inside the brain – which could end up causing nerve cell death.
- Frontotemporal dementia: This is where clusters of abnormal protein appear in the front and side of the brain, which can then cause some nerve cells to die.
The symptoms that a person exhibits will majorly depend on the parts of their brain that is damaged and the disease that is causing dementia.
What is Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s is a disease that has an effect on the brain. Structures known as tangles and plaques will build up in the brain. These cause disruption to the way nerve cells work, which will then lead them to die.
Alzheimer’s also leads to a shortage of important chemicals inside the brain. A reduction in the levels of these important chemicals leads to messages not traveling as effectively as they should.
Alzheimer’s usually starts with a mild loss of memory. The person might find it difficult to recall recent events or to learn new information. There may be other symptoms like difficulty saying the right words, making decisions, or solving problems.
How are Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease different?
When someone has a dementia diagnosis, it means they’ve been diagnosed with a host of symptoms. This can be likened to a person with a sore throat. They have a sore throat, but it isn’t known what caused that symptom. It could be as a result of strep throat, common cold, or allergies. In a similar sense, someone diagnosed with dementia will be experiencing symptoms without knowing the cause of the symptoms. Dementia is a blanket term to give an explanation to the symptoms.
Another difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s is that the latter isn’t reversible. It is degenerative – with no current cure. On the other hand, some dementia forms like a vitamin deficiency or drug interaction are reversible or temporary.