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Alzheimer's and Dementia what's the Difference? It's the same isn't it?

Well there is a difference folks. Most people use it interchangeably. Even I did when I was younger. I thought of it as a disease that old people get. That is true for the most part but there is such a thing as Early Onset Alzheimer’s. It's an uncommon form of dementia that strikes people younger than age 65.

Let's get to the difference between Alzheimer's and Dementia. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Alzheimer’s disease is a common cause of dementia causing as many as 50 to 70% of all dementia cases. In fact, Alzheimer’s is a specific form of dementia. Symptoms of Alzheimer’s include impaired thought, impaired speech, and confusion. A doctor can’t say that you or your loved one has Alzheimer’s with absolute certainty, but there are things he or she can do to be sure. Doctors use a variety of screenings to determine the cause of dementia including blood tests, mental status evaluations and brain scans.

Dementia on the other hand is an umbrella term for a set of symptoms including impaired thinking and memory. Dementia is the name for a group of brain disorders that make it hard to remember, think clearly, make decisions, or even control your emotions. Alzheimer’s disease is one of those disorders, but there are many different types and causes of dementia. Dementia isn’t just about simple memory mishaps - like forgetting someone’s name or where you parked. A person with dementia has a hard time with at least two of the following:

  • Memory

  • Communication and speech

  • Focus and concentration

  • Reasoning and judgment

  • Visual perception (can’t see the difference in colors or detect movement, or sees things that aren’t there)

Since some types of dementia share similar symptoms, it can be hard for a doctor to figure out which one you or your loved one has. Be sure to tell him about all symptoms, medication and alcohol use, and previous illnesses to help him make the right diagnosis.

Basically, it’s a term that is often associated with the cognitive decline of aging. However, issues other than Alzheimer’s can cause dementia. Other common causes of dementia are Huntington’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

The major difference between Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia — when an individual is diagnosed with dementia, they are diagnosed based on their symptoms without knowing what's behind the symptoms. In Alzheimer’s disease, the exact cause of the symptoms is understood. In addition, Alzheimer's disease is not reversible, whereas some types of dementia, such as those caused by nutritional problems or a drug interaction, can be reversed.

I intend to write a post on the types of Dementia soon.

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