The Differences Between Dementia and Alzheimer’s

Elderly Woman

Dementia and Alzheimer’s are typically used interchangeably in conversation. However, while they certainly have overlapping symptoms, there are distinguishing features between the two.

Alzheimer’s falls under one of the brain diseases more generally known as dementia; in other words, dementia is the umbrella term for brain disorders that affect memory, decision-making, and emotional control.

Dementia Symptoms and Causes

As mentioned, dementia is the more general term for brain disorders that impair memory, among several other disabilities. The symptoms can begin subtly, and may go unnoticed for some time, or simply be associated with the aging process. However, it’s important to look for these signs early on to establish a treatment plan.

Some symptoms of dementia include:

  • Recent memory loss
  • Trouble with focus or concentration
  • Mood swings or depression
  • Problems with speech
  • Difficulty with normal, daily tasks

The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s, along with other diseases such as Parkinson’s or Huntington’s. However, some other causes can include HIV, depression, stroke, or drug abuse.

Alzheimer’s Symptoms and Causes

While dementia encompasses Alzheimer’s disease, the symptoms of Alzheimer’s are far more progressive and debilitating. Alzheimer’s disease not only affects the brain in terms of memory and cognitive function, but there is no definitive cause for the disease.

The progression of Alzheimer’s can be quick, especially in those over 80 years old. By the end of the progression, this disease can debilitate a person’s total memory, speech, and ability to function. Symptoms of Alzheimer’s appear years after the damage to the brain has been done, making treatment difficult.

Treatment for Dementia and Alzheimer’s

Just like their symptoms, many treatment plans for dementia and Alzheimer’s will overlap. While Alzheimer’s cannot be cured, the symptoms can be managed – which is why it’s important to look for Early Signs of Dementia in your loved one.

Some treatment programs may include:

  • Depression or anti-psychotic medications
  • Sleep medications
  • Holistic treatments, like coconut oil or fish oil
  • Talk therapy
  • Home care to reduce stress

With dementia specifically, the effects of treatment depend on what it is that’s causing the dementia. Some cases of dementia can be reversed, while most others, such as those caused by Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, cannot.

Alzheimer’s, however, is a terminal disease. One can live with the illness between 4-8 years, or in some cases, as long as 20 years. Consulting a doctor as soon as symptoms are apparent, or regular checkups to receive as early a diagnosis as possible, is key to developing a plan in dealing with Alzheimer’s or any dementia diagnosis.

Finding Home Care for Your Loved One with Dementia or Alzheimer’s

If your loved one has been diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s, a home caregiver can aid in lessening the stress of daily tasks that may become more difficult. At WellSprings Home Care, we have a staff of trained and educated caregivers who will be happy to help. Give us a call at (610) 463-0880 or schedule a or schedule a Free Consultation, and we’ll help you get started.

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