The month of September we recognize and bring attention to World Alzheimer’s. The terms Alzheimer’s and Dementia are often used conversely because people believe that they carry the same meaning. These two different diagnosis are related, however, differ from one another and can become confusing when talked about.
Dementia is defined as a brain disorder that affects our communication skills and activities of daily living (ADLs) while Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia that specifically affects parts of the brain that control our memory, thoughts, and language. Dementia is often associated with the cognitive decline of aging. When a person is diagnosed with dementia, they are being diagnosed with a set of symptoms. But health issues other than Alzheimer’s can cause dementia as well, like, Huntington’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is a common cause of dementia, from 50 to 70% of all dementia cases to be exact. Alzheimer’s takes on a very specific form. Symptoms of Alzheimer’s include impaired thought/speech and confusion. Physicians conduct various screenings to determine the cause of dementia that consist of blood tests, mental evaluations and brain scans. Another major difference between the two is that Alzheimer’s is not a reversible disease, it’s degenerative and unfortunately incurable.
Those themselves dealing with these diseases or family members looking after a loved one, are clearer in understanding about Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Greater public awareness is needed to differentiate between the two and better understanding of what exactly causes Alzheimer’s disease will help to hopefully one day lead us – ultimately to a cure.
Sources: Center for Disease Control/Mayo Clinic