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What is the difference between Dementia and Alzheimer's?

Updated: Jul 15

A syndrome is a collection of symptoms that are ongoing and have a health-based cause. A disease is an out of the ordinary response to occurrences inside and/or outside the body. The latter is usually a more specific description of someone’s condition.

This means that Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia but not all dementia can be classified as Alzheimer’s.

What are the signs of dementia?

Broadly speaking, dementia is anything that affects someone’s ability to remember, focus, communicate or otherwise process information from the world around them. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s. However, there are other forms.

Vascular dementia, for example, is when there is a decrease or disruption in the flow of blood to the brain. This leads to problems with judgement and decision making. This can follow something like a stroke but can also develop spontaneously due to poor lifestyle choices around food and exercise.

Dementia with Lewy bodies is a build-up of proteins in the brain. This can affect concentration and sleep as well as stimulate hallucinations.

It’s possible to have different types of dementia at once. Diagnosis can be difficult and inconclusive but there are treatments that can potentially help.

What are the specifics of Alzheimer’s disease?

Alzheimer’s occurs when certain parts of the brain start to get clogged up. The disease typically starts off mild and worsens over time. Eventually, affected brain cells will die. There is also a drop in essential chemicals that send messages around the brain. All of this means that someone will not be able to process information and make connections in the way that they always have.

Alzheimer’s is more common in the over 65s. However, there are cases of early-onset Alzheimer’s, which can manifest sooner than this. There is no known cure for the disease at present, although there are increasingly better ways to manage the progress of the symptoms.

Early symptoms include memory problems that are not a natural part of ageing. A good way to distinguish the 2 is to think of memory problems as forgetting your keys and Alzheimer’s as forgetting what your keys are for.

Getting support after diagnosis

When diagnosis and symptoms are so complex, it’s vital to get professional advice. This starts with medical care, but in the long term, people usually find they have day-to-day care needs as well. There are lots of options available to meet these needs. One of them is live in care through a provider like Country Cousins.

Working with a professional provider means that you can access people who are trained to work with dementia and Alzheimer’s. They can provide support for loved ones while Country Cousins takes care of all the legal and logistical challenges that come with employing someone to do care work.

If you need support and advice about care following a dementia or Alzheimer’s diagnosis, then please do get in touch to find out more.

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