One of the scariest aspects of aging is the increased risk of developing neurological diseases such as dementia or Alzheimer’s. However, while we often hear the terms dementia and Alzheimer’s used interchangeably, they are different conditions, but not many people understand the differences between them. While some of the symptoms of the two conditions may overlap, it is important to distinguish between them as their management and treatment process differ. As such, here is everything you need to know about dementia vs. Alzheimer’s debate.
What Are The Key Differences?
Dementia is not a singular disease but an umbrella term used to describe a set of symptoms that impacts the cognitive capabilities of the sufferer, including memory problems, issues with communication, and daily tasks.
Meanwhile, Alzheimer’s disease is a specific neurological disease and is widely considered the most common type of dementia. Those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease exhibit dementia symptoms such as declining memory, issues with communication, and trouble thinking rationally and logically. As the disease progresses, the symptoms get worse and would eventually seep into every aspect of one’s life, causing changes in behavior as well as confusion and paranoia.
That being said, Alzheimer’s disease is not the only form of dementia. Other types of dementia include Huntington’s disease, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, Parkinson’s disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, and more. Each of these diseases have distinct differences though they all share dementia symptoms. Thus, those suffering from any of these diseases would typically require memory care. Residents of retirement communities such as Rittenhouse Village At Northside afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease or any other types of dementia would easily have access to the help they need.
Differences in Symptoms
As stated, some of the symptoms between Alzheimer’s disease and dementia overlap. These include:
- Decline in memory
- Communication impairment
- Loss of ability to reason and think
However, Alzheimer’s disease has its own set of distinct symptoms that may not be shared by other types of dementia. These include:
- Trouble remembering recent conversations or events
- Impaired judgment
- Confusion and disorientation
- Changes in behavior
- Trouble swallowing or speaking
- Impaired mobility such as trouble walking
Differences in Treatment
Because dementia is a general term used to describe a group of diseases, the treatment of dementia can vary depending on which type of dementia one has. Nonetheless, dementia is more often than not irreversible, though select conditions may be treatable with medication and other medical procedures. For conditions that are non-treatable, medication can still help manage the symptoms, allowing those suffering from it to live a better quality of life.
There are numerous factors that can also cause dementia, some of which include drug use, tumors, metabolic disorders, and hypoglycemia. In some cases, addressing these conditions and treating them may indirectly help alleviate the symptoms of dementia.
As for Alzheimer’s disease, there is currently no cure. However, there are various ways healthcare professionals can help manage the symptoms of the disease. These include:
- Administering various medications to regulate behavioral changes such as antipsychotics
- Administering medication for declining memory such as cholinesterase inhibitors donepezil
- Medication for sleep and depression may also help