Dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease, What’s The Difference?

I cannot tell you how many times I ask a client if their loved one has a dementia and am told “No, they don’t have Alzheimer’s Disease.”  So many people don’t understand that dementia is really a symptom or presence of symptoms caused by many different circumstances, including Alzheimer’s Disease.  Here is a great article that defines dementia and what can cause it.   ~ Becky

Dementia – Beyond Alzheimer’s Disease                                           Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, but it’s not the only one.  From Parkinson’s disease to stroke, find out which other conditions are associated with dementia.                                                                                             By:  Madeline Vann, MPH                                                                                   Medically reviewed by Lindsey Marcellin, MD, MPH

Alzheimer’s disease causes up to 75 percent of dementia cases – but even though the two conditions are often associated, dementia is not always related to Alzheimer’s disease.

“Dementia is just a fancy word for memory loss,” says Raj C. Shah, MD, medical director of the Rush Memory Center at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.  “It doesn’t tell you what the cause is.”  In addition to memory loss, dementia also causes difficulty with thinking, reasoning, and decision making.

A dementia diagnosis is based on the presence of certain symptoms, which are then categorized to determine the stage of dementia and the appropriate dementia treatment.  There is no cure for dementia, which is by definition a fatal, progressive disease, meaning dementia symptoms will only get worse over time.  Dementia treatment, however, can help slow the progression of symptoms in some cases.

Possible Causes of Dementia

If someone is diagnosed with dementia, the possible causes include:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a rare brain disorder sometimes referred to as mad cow disease that kills most patients within a year
  • Frontotemporal dementia, a condition in which parts of the brain shrink, affecting either behavior or speech
  • Strokes, in which cause brain cells die because their oxygen supply has been cut off or from bleeding in the brain, sometimes resulting in a condition called vascular dementia
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Lewy body dementia, a common type in which Lewy bodies, a type of protein, build up in the brain, causing cognitive and other types of problems
  • Parkinson’s disease, which occurs when nerve cells in the brain lose the ability to make a chemical transmitter called dopamine, causing difficulties with movement, as well as dementia.

The Worst Form of Dementia?  Because Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause and the most often studied, people may believe it to be the “worst” form of dementia.

2 responses to “Dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease, What’s The Difference?

  1. Pingback: Dementia | Game Glist

  2. You have done a great job of breaking down the possibilities. Very informational!

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