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What is the difference between Alzheimer's and Dementia?

Medikoe Health Expert

Medikoe Health Expert

  Koramangala, bengaluru, karnataka, india, Bengaluru     Feb 13, 2017

   3 min     

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Overview

Dementia and Alzheimer's disease is not the same, but most people get confused with both of them. Dementia is a medical condition that hits the brain, and its symptoms include memory loss, confusion, problems with speech and language, anxiety, paranoia, personality changes, lack of initiative, and difficulty in learning new skills. Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the leading cause of Dementia in elderly people. The most striking symptom is memory loss, especially the loss of recently learned information. Other symptoms include a decline in the ability to learn, reason, make judgments, and communicate and carry out daily activities.

Alzheimer's is a growing problem – 15% of people over age 65 are affected, and 40% of those over age 85. By 2050 the number of individuals with Alzheimer's disease in the United States is expected to be 13.8 million.

The length of the illness can vary from 3 to 20 years. The areas of the brain that control memory and thinking skills are affected first, but as the disease progresses, cells die in other parts of the brain.

Alzheimer's disease shortens life, and people with AD are vulnerable to pneumonia, serious falls, infection and other related problems.

Difference between Alzheimer's disease and Dementia

Dementia is a disease characterized by impairment in memory or in another area of thinking, such as the ability to organize thoughts and reason and the ability to use language. These impairments are acute enough to cause a decline in the patient's usual level of functioning.

Many different diseases can cause Dementia and Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of Dementia in the United States and most countries in the world.

Genetics

Specific genes increase the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease but do not invariably cause Alzheimer's disease. Such one gene is the one that encodes apolipoprotein E (apoE).

Causes of Alzheimer's disease                                        

Till now, the cause of Alzheimer's disease is not known. The "amyloid cascade hypothesis" is the most widely conversed and researched hypothesis about the cause of Alzheimer's disease. The strongest data supporting the amyloid cascade hypothesis comes from the study of early-onset inherited (genetic) Alzheimer's disease. In all of these patients, the mutation leads to excess production of a specific form of a small protein fragment called Abeta (Aβ) in the brain.

Alzheimer's vs dementia symptoms

The symptoms of Alzheimer's and Dementia are almost the same, and it is very hard to differentiate. However, both conditions can cause:

  • A decline in the ability to think
  • Memory impairment
  • Communication impairment
  • The symptoms of Alzheimer's include:
  • Depression
  • Impaired judgement
  • Disorientation
  • Confusion
  • Apathy
  • Difficulty remembering recent events or conversations
  • Behavioural changes
  • Difficulty speaking, swallowing or walking

The early symptoms of Dementia can be mild, so there are easy to overlook. Symptoms begin with the episodes of forgetfulness. Usually, people with Dementia have trouble keeping track of time and tend to lose their memory.  The obvious symptoms of Dementia are repetitious questioning, inadequate hygiene, and poor decision making.

People with Dementia most likely experience involuntary movement in the early stages of the disease due to Parkinson's or Huntington's disease.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Symptoms caused by Alzheimer's disease cannot be cured, but medications are available that may slow the course of the illness. Medications are also available to appease problems with depression, anxiety, agitation, paranoia, and sleep disturbances. Some alternative remedies aim to boost brain function or overall health, such as coconut oil or fish oil.

In most cases, Dementia is not reversible, but in some cases treating the condition that causes Dementia may help. The treatment of Dementia depends on the cause. 

The best treatment is loving care. The old saying, "to know someone, you must walk a mile in his or her shoes" applies to dementia care.  

Tags:  Alzheimer’s,neurology,Brain, Neurology, Alzheimer's Disease, Dementia

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